Firm axes 3,000 jobs

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CARE home bosses have revealed they are to cut 3,000 jobs.

Darlington-based Southern Cross, which runs homes in Hartlepool, Billingham and Blackhall, said the proposals to slash the workforce were part of a programme first announced 18-months ago.

It isn’t clear which homes will feel the brunt of the cuts but it is understood that more than 300 nurses and 1,275 care staff are among those that will lose their jobs.

Nearly 700 catering staff and those in domestic and maintenance posts are also at risk of facing the axe.

Group chairman Christopher Fisher recently warned the firm was in a “critical financial condition” after it unveiled £311m losses in the six months to March 31 this year.

The company is responsible for looking after 31,000 residents across 750 homes.

The cuts may hit staff in and around Hartlepool.

The company runs Elwick Grange Care Home, in Elwick Road, Hartlepool, Field View Care Home, in Hesleden Road, Blackhall and Hadrian Park Care Home and Allington House Care Home, both in Marsh House Avenue, Billingham.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB trade union, appealed to the Government for help.

He said: “This is the start of a disaster for residents as well as a kick in the teeth for the staff.

“This is the trigger for the Government to step in with immediate financial support to ensure that Southern Cross continues to operate and continues to provide a home for 31,000 elderly and vulnerable residents looked after by 44,000 staff.”

Southern Cross chief executive Jamie Buchan said: “We are engaging with colleagues to put in place the best possible staffing model for our future needs, and one which fully embraces the best practice available to us.

“In developing this model during a very challenging time for both our company and the industry we are determined that the process we undertake should be exemplary in terms of staff communication.”