In the weeks following my blog “Southern Cross Poker Game” (see 5 April 2011), there have been a few cards played but no winning moves just yet.
Southern Cross Management – made the first move when their Chairman resigned and was replaced by another financier from the existing board – not exactly indicating a will to change their approach
At the same time the Executive Directors were “strengthened” with a new Operations Director – with a limited background in nursing care
and a Publications Director – which sounds like a sticking plaster solution if ever there was one.
All this misses the point of why the Southern Cross Homes are failing. Firstly because of avaricious financial agreements which promise to pay disastrously high racked up rental agreements – agreements made by the same financial wizards.
Secondly, standards of care are not maintained to high enough levels, which is why the Care Quality Commission are closing so many homes to new admissions (40 at the latest count) – this first play of the cards hardly inspires confidence. It rather more suggests panic – deck chairs and titanic comes to mind.
Bankers and vulture capitalists (the landlords) – these money men do not move quickly and they are known for keeping their card close to their treasure chests. They had their first card snatched from their hand by Southern Cross Management when they unilaterally decided to stop paying rent for a month. The landlords retrospectively agreed not to take action to foreclose for a month – not that they had too much option, except to spit feathers.
Meanwhile they flag up their interest in finding another operator – a bluff if ever there was one. This is a business they badly misread when they got into it – and now it is not easy to get out.
The Care Quality Commission, the inexperienced player – the butterfly in the game – continues to close admissions to more homes but has no strong card to play without Government approval. In the meantime, it is working to offload the problem by asking Local Authorities what they will do if Southern Cross goes bust – it’s called contingency planning or buck passing. The S..T and the fan have not met yet.
The Department of Health – Still sits tight holding the strongest hand – an agreement to use beds for NHS patients – but first there needs to be significant concessions by the money men and no hand can be played by Government until after the May elections. Even after that a radical change like this is not one to be countenanced quickly.
So Southern Cross residents are left as chips in a phony war of bluff and counter bluff.