Care sector is “on the edge”, HC-One chief warns

HC-One chairman Dr Chai Patel

Dr Chai Patel, CEO of HC-One, has warned the care sector is on the edge with its underfunding threatening “catastrophic failure” in the NHS.

Chai, who is on the brink of taking over more than 120 Bupa care homes (see EXCLUSIVE: HC-One to buy Bupa care homes), made the comments during an interview with The Times.

“There is no question the sector itself is on the edge,” Chai said.

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“The impact of chronic underfunding of social care will result in catastrophic failure in the NHS.”

Chai dismissed concerns that HC-One’s Bupa care home acquisition could result in a Southern Cross style collapse.

Analysts have raised concerns over HC-One debt exposure following the Bupa acquisition, which is expected to raise its debt to more than £500m (see Bupa acquisition fuels debt burden concerns).

Chai said HC-One retained the freehold to most of its homes with its debts accounting for half of its real estate value.

Martin Green, CEO of Care England, welcomed the deal as a positive development for the sector.

“Private providers are painted to be only concerned with profiteering from older people when, in my personal experience, this could not be further from the truth,” he said.

“It is the private sector that is plugging the gaps for the state. The real scandal in social care is the abject failure of successive governments, across all political parties, to invest properly in social care over many decades.”

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