The Public Accounts Committee recently alerted Ministers to the fact that local authorities could, in the future, face scenarios similar to the recent one with Southern Cross http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16035012. Readers will recall that this major provider, which operated 9% of all care homes, recently failed leaving many local authorities with the headache of what to do next.
Already Ministers have been making soothing noises that this can’t possibly happen again and that local authorities are now making more checks. Having been one of a small group of people that over three years ago was questioning the wisdom of having private equity owned firms owning any service connected with care provision, my response to such assurances can be summed up in three words ….I DOUBT IT
The simple fact is that most authorities satisfy themselves by simply buying in services from companies such as D&B and Experian with the hope that things may show up on the radar early enough so that a contingency plan can be hastily put in place. Procurement and commissioning exercises are usually left to chance with little scientific research being done into things such as the ownership, investment and growth plans of potential providers. Resource devoted to these and many other things at the acquisition strategy planning stage would provide some real safeguards.
If you haven’t already read it, then download our recent SOLACE sponsored white paper which picks up on this issue.