Care Homes / Providers / Agencies : Sector News / Closures / Scandals / Police Investigations

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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British care company fines workers £50 for calling in sick.

Newcross Healthcare charged employees even after absence for car crash injuries.

One of Britain’s biggest providers of agency carers has been fining staff who phone in sick £50, raising concerns that frontline employees are being forced to turn up for shifts when they are not fit for work and risk spreading illnesses to vulnerable patients.

An investigation by the Guardian has uncovered evidence of cases in which Newcross Healthcare Solutions has failed to pay its employees if they cancel shifts because of illness without 24 hours’ notice, and has also docked money from their pay.


The firm, which employs 7,000 staff across 63 branches providing temporary nurses and carers for hospitals and residential and nursing homes, made a pre-tax profit of £21m and paid directors an equity dividend of £17m in 2017.

After being contacted by the Guardian, Newcross Healthcare announced it would be scrapping the £50 charge by April 2019. The firm, which said it could not comment on individual cases, also denied workers had wages docked when they were “genuinely ill”, but dozens of examples seen by the Guardian suggest otherwise.

Among the allegations of the £50 charge has been used against employees with legitimate health issues are:


An employee who said they they were laughed at on the phone and had their wages docked after crashing their car on the way to a shift, suffering serious injuries.

A pregnant worker who had to call in sick with vertigo meaning she was unable to drive an hour and a half to a shift was fined wages even after obtaining a doctor’s note.

A former worker claimed staff incurred the charge after missing shifts because of a cancer scare.

The shadow minister for social care, Barbara Keeley, said the case was “symptomatic of our broken care system”. “Good care quality depends on workers with good terms and conditions, but in hollowing out our social care system through relentless cuts to council budgets, this government has empowered irresponsible providers that are driving down workers’ conditions and at the same time damaging the quality of care,” she said.

The Unison assistant general secretary, Christina McAnea, said: “Care staff can’t avoid being exposed to germs and health hazards. This practice seems highly dubious and we’ll be investigating.”

Eileen Chubb, the founder of Compassion in Care, a whistleblowing charity that campaigns to improve care, said Newcross carers concerned about the policy had contacted her.

“It is obscene that a company making millions of pounds in profit should be docking £50 from the wages of carers who phone in sick,” she said. “It raises the serious risk that carers are turning up for work when they’re not well, putting vulnerable elderly people at risk. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

“They’re leaving staff in a position where they’ve got to choose between going into work when they’re unwell or have their pay docked. People may well be tempted to go to work when they’re not fit to, because they can’t afford to lose the money. When someone is on very low pay, £50 is a lot of money.”

The firm, which also provides staff for prisons, hospitals and schools, is owned by Newcross Nursing Group Ltd, which in turn is owned and controlled by Beluga Rock Holdings Ltd, a firm registered in the tax haven of Gibraltar.

The ultimate controlling parties are the Newcross founders Stephen Pattrick and Michelle Gorringe, who live in Gibraltar. Pattrick, who is pictured on social media smoking cigars and shooting, is also the chief executive of the motorsports team Bullitt Racing and has driven for the team. The Bullitt Racing website says that his “success in business” has enabled him to “indulge in his motor racing hobby” and “fervour for speed”.

The firm’s employee handbook confirms the existence of the charge, stating under “absences and sickness”: “It is important that you provide as much notice of any planned or unplanned absence as soon as possible as it can cause considerable difficulty and expense when trying to find alternative cover. Where you have accepted an assignment and you subsequently fail to attend without reasonable notice or valid reason, we reserve the right to make an administration charge [which may be recovered from you in accordance with clause 6.14 of your contract of employment].”

The Guardian, however, has uncovered a series of examples in which workers claim that they have been charged a fee even when giving valid reasons. The jobs websites Indeed and Glassdoor are flooded with dozens of negative reviews written by furious current and former employees of the agency complaining about the charge.

They include one current employee in south-west England who claimed they were fined £50 after crashing their car on the way to a shift. They wrote in November: “One time I crashed my car on the way to a shift, sustaining injuries to my spine. I rang Newcross to tell them I wouldn’t be able to attend, instead going to hospital. They laughed on the phone, then told me: ‘Thank you for losing us a client,’ and went on to to charge me £50. I was disgusted.”

A former employee from Glasgow wrote in October: “Worked with Newcross from 2011 until 2018 and discarded without a second thought, had no support or loyalty, cared more for their contracts rather than the staff. You incur a £50 charge for missed shifts even when this is for a cancer scare, disgusting agency whose only concern is to make money and offer shifts [to] their favourite staff.”

In October, a former employee in Wales wrote: “I recently found out I was pregnant and had to call in sick twice for being poorly. One occasion being I had vertigo and couldn’t drive to my 1 hour and 30 min drive shift. My partner took me to the doctors and I got a doctor’s note and tablets to take. I was still charged £50. I think the company is appalling and I am considering taking it further!”

Rakesh Patel, the head of employment rights strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “It’s pretty outrageous if the company is penalising workers for taking unplanned sick leave. By its very nature, sickness absence is often unplanned.”

A Newcross Healthcare spokesman said the firm was not an agency, pointing out that it employs staff on permanent contracts and offers guaranteed hours. The firm’s own Facebook page, however, describes it as an employment agency.

A spokesman said: “It is an administration charge applied if staff pull out of a shift with less than 24 hours’ notice for whatever reason. All of our employees sign up to this legally binding agreement as part of their contract of employment.

“The 24-hour protocol is to ensure there is no disruption in patient care and to protect those who rely on our employees to attend their shifts once they have accepted them. Patient care is absolutely paramount to us and we take very seriously our commitment to deliver for our clients and to follow Care Quality CommissionCQC, Care Inspectorate [Scotland] and CI and CIW Care Inspectorate Wales regulations.

“The administration charge is being phased out and will cease in April 2019. We are rolling out a new internal app that allows our staff to auto assign shifts. This technology will enable us to fill any shifts that become available quickly and efficiently.

“At present, if someone is genuinely ill, they should not be working. Each cancellation is reviewed by a line manager and if there is a genuine reason for absence, we do not administer a charge. For instance, in 90% of cases in the past calendar year, this administration charge wasn’t applied. There is also an appeal process for employees who feel it has been incorrectly administered. We have appeals that have been successful and unsuccessful.”


The firm said nine of its 11 branches regulated by the CQC are rated good or outstanding. The Guardian understands the £50 charge has been in place since at least 2014, but Newcross was unable to say how long it had been in operation.




Welcome to this Sad New World ... I wonder if the staff were charged for the annual Christmas card ?



The Newcross philosophy of care

Since 1996, Newcross has been fostering the highest standards of healthcare. Exceptional training and support are central to achieving this goal, but we believe that outstanding care requires more than just clinical proficiency. Above all else, our focus is on making a positive difference to the lives of sick and vulnerable people.

We are guided by a common set of values – our philosophy of care is a holistic, transparent and person-centred approach. It ensures everyone understands our shared vision.

For clients and service users, we aim to :

Provide the highest standard of care.

Enhance their quality of life and maximise their potential.

Fully respect their dignity, individuality, cultural, social and religious needs.

Recognise their right to privacy, including confidential information about themselves, their family and friends.

Attend their needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a free telephone number.

For our clients and partners, we aim to :

Be an active part of the care teams in organisations we work with.

Fully integrate with them to ensure continuity of care and support to patients.

Collaborate and co-operate with all health professionals, community, social and other care workers involved in the provision of care, recognising and respecting their contribution to the team.

We value Trust, Empathy & Expertise.

Our commitment to caring for people is also reflected in our team values. Everyone working at Newcross understands what these core values are, and how they contribute to the service we provide. Together, we make sure every client receives the high standard of service possible.

Trust – We are always honest and reliable, in what we say and what we do. We protect the privacy and dignity of those in our care.

Empathy – We strive to understand the needs and wishes of every individual; including service users, their loved ones, our colleagues and clients.

Expertise – We promote the highest standards of professional skills; constantly improving and sharing the latest techniques and best practice.

( And , as for our staff .... ??? )

Nine Safehands Nurseries closing across the North West with 100 jobs lost.

About 100 nursery staff are losing their jobs across the North West ahead of Christmas after nine centres are being closed by a Preston entrepreneur.


Businessman Simon Rigby confirmed that nine out of 12 Safehands Nurseries which are closing today will not reopen after Christmas.

One of the branches to shut is in Ribbleton Avenue in Preston.

But Mr Rigby has said that the Safehands nurseries at Preston’s Guild Hall and in Seasiders Way, Blackpool are both safe.

Of the three nurseries remaining open, about 35 jobs still exist.

“It is business as usual in Blackpool and The Guild Hall but the one in Ribbleton is closing,” Mr Rigby said.

“They are closing for Christmas today anyway and they will not be reopening after Christmas.

“We have sold our care business and our nurseries out of Safehands.

“Some nurseries have been picked up and some haven’t.

“Certain nurseries have been sold. Nurseries that haven’t sold have been closed. They are still for sale but as closed nurseries.”

“There are circa 100 jobs in the nurseries that are being closed but all staff have been asked if we can pass their details on if a buyer comes forward in the short term.”

On the Ribbleton centre, which employs about 10 staff members, Mr Rigby said: “It’s all happened very quickly.

“Over the last couple of days staff will have got to know about it.

“We have got to move quickly with these things.

“But it will be business as usual with the Guild Hall nursery and the Blackpool one.”

However Mr Rigby also said that another division of the Safehands group, Safehands Care has been bought wholesale by PremierCare, thereby saving around 250 staff jobs.

“It’s a very very difficult market at the moment because we have an aging population,” he said. “We are very very pleased to be passing the baton on to a good operator.

“It’s good for securing local employment.

“There’s been a huge consolidation in the care sector now with bigger care companies.

“We have chosen to sell to an organisation which is heavily invested in this sector.

“The nursery part of the business lost its critical mass when we sold the bigger part and the smaller part wasn’t sustainable.”

Mr Rigby is keeping the two hotels in the Safehands Hotels division of the group.

The Safehands Nurseries closing are in:

Barnoldswick

Penrith

Kendal

Ribbleton

Accrington

Stalybridge

Thornton

Colne

Rishton

About MR WILLIAM SIMON RIGBY

Mr William Simon Rigby holds 107 appointments at 107 active companies, has resigned from 143 companies and held 23 appointments at 23 dissolved companies. WILLIAM began their first appointment at the age of 32. Their longest current appointment spans 12 years, 7 months and 26 days at R-GROUP OF COMPANIES LIMITED

The combined cash at bank value for all businesses where WILLIAM holds a current appointment equals £1.7m, a combined total current assets value of £85.8m with a total current liabilities of £84.6m and a total current net worth of £12m. Roles associated with Mr William Simon Rigby within the recorded businesses include: Director, Company Secretary, Llp Designated Member.
Maybe a festive day for some but ... for others , life goes on as usual.

More on the Newcross healthcare story posted earlier :

Labour MP urges care firm to scrap charge for workers who call in sick.

Shadow health secretary says Newcross Healthcare must axe £50 fines for staff immediately.


A care company exposed by the Guardian for fining staff £50 when they phone in sick should scrap the “absolutely disgusting” charge immediately, the shadow health secretary has said.

The intervention by Jonathan Ashworth came after an investigation revealed Newcross Healthcare Solutions, which made millions of pounds in profit last year, was imposing the charge on workers who called to say they were unwell without giving 24 hours’ notice.

The company, which provides thousands of agency nurses and care workers for homes and hospitals across the country, announced the charge would be “phased out” by April 2019, but Ashworth called for it to be ditched without hesitation.

“Bosses at this company should scrap these £50 fines now, today, not ‘by April 2019’,” he tweeted.

Ashworth later said: “Every decent-minded person will be absolutely disgusted at the way this firm treats its staff. Care workers look after our elderly relatives, going way beyond the call of duty. These £50 fines should be ended now.”



Be somewhat ironic if any Members had an interest in this outfit ???

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Newcross’s founder and chief executive may be a Conservative party donor.

According to Electoral Commission records, a Stephen Pattrick has given a total of £15,000 to the Conservatives, making one donation of £7,500 in November 2008 and another of £7,500 in December 2009.

Newcross declined to comment. A Conservative spokeswoman would not confirm the donor was the same Stephen Pattrick, but said the party “maintains a system of due diligence for all our donors”.
Damning care home report reveals resident with bloodied legs and another with no mental health medication for a week.


Image

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Ritson Lodge, in Hopton near Great Yarmouth, on October 31, 2018.

And in a report released today they rated the home as inadequate.

The inspection had been brought forward after the agency received “several whistleblowing concerns” and inspectors found one person had been left without their mental health medication for a week.

Despite the rating, residents praised the staff, although inspectors found a number of people had left and employees said there was there was a “reliance on agency staff”.

One resident said: “I am a happy bunny and well looked after. In my view its 80pc perfect here, 10pc ‘iffy’ and the rest needs looking at.”

Inspectors were particularly concerned about one resident, who they saw at 12.15pm had skin tears on their legs with fresh blood.

After the tears were spotted a member of staff took the resident their lunch but when asked said their legs had not been “like that at lunchtime”.

And even after inspectors informed four members of staff, the person had not been helped by 4pm.

The report said their skin tears had not been cleaned and “the person’s legs remained stained with a mixture of dried and fresh blood”.

It added: “There was a lack of clarity around how and when the person’s injuries had been sustained but no safeguarding referral had been made. We therefore informed the manager and regional directors and requested that a safeguarding referral was made without further delay.”

A spokesman for Barchester Healthcare, which runs Ritson Lodge, said: “We take the findings of the Care Quality Commission very seriously and we recognise that changes needed to be made in the home as the report identified. Building on the positive developments recognised in the report, we have implemented a comprehensive plan which clearly outlines the immediate steps being taken to ensure further improvements in our service. We would like to reassure everyone of our commitment to provide the highest quality of care to those living at Ritson Lodge and to emphasise that their health and wellbeing is at the forefront of everything we do.”
Financial irregularities at home where teenager killed herself, inquest told.

Manager says he resigned over " Reckless " sacking of therapists at mental health care home.

Financial irregularities were uncovered at a care home where a 19-year-old with bipolar disorder killed herself after cost cutting and a change of management which sparked staff fears that someone might die, an inquest has heard.

Sophie Bennett was found dead in her bathroom in May 2016 at the Lancaster Lodge mental health facility in Richmond, south-west London, after upheaval at the managing charity that was led by Elly Jansen, an internationally renowned figure in mental healthcare who also owned the premises.

Vincent Hill, who managed the home between 2011 and January 2016, told an inquest at West London coroner’s court how he resigned in protest at an abrupt decision to sack the residents’ psychological therapists, which he described as “absolutely reckless”.

Art therapists and Hill’s own clinical supervisor were also laid off, and a service evaluated as “good” by the Care Quality Commission declined to “inadequate”. Hill said it became a “bullying, insensitive, neglectful and dictatorial regime”. The changes came after the appearance of a “financial timebomb” in the organisation, said Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, appearing for the Bennett family.

Hill said the sackings were ordered by another manager carrying out Jansen’s orders despite the fact that “the psychologists were critical to the patients’ recovery”.

Hill said a “boot camp” system was introduced for the facility’s eight or nine residents after he was replaced and the level of care declined rapidly. Some parents resorted to staying overnight at the home to keep their children safe, he said, and three residents were taken to hospital “at breaking point”. One parent complained they were “absolutely flabbergasted at the level of neglect”, the inquest heard, and a member of staff sent an email confessing they were “afraid that someone might die by the damage I caused”.

Explaining the context to these changes, Hill said: “The existing CEO began to find what he believed were financial irregularities. Simultaneous to that, those people who were on the board were basically ousted by Elly Jansen, who threatened to pull the plug on all of the homes if they didn’t resign.”

Jansen was not on the board of the charity Richmond Psychosocial Foundation International (RPFI), which ran the home, but John Taylor, the coroner, told the jury she was “more or less top of the pyramid of RPFI”.


Five months before Bennett killed herself, the charity appointed an auditor to examine the performance of its three homes, which was then presented to Jansen.

“Elly was very interested in my view on how close or far away each unit was to be able to maintain itself financially,” Duncan Lawrence, the auditor, told the inquest in a statement.

Jansen’s attitude to the residents was also called into question. Gallagher said that when two of the residents fled the home towards the river, Jansen said in an internal email that “two habitually manipulative girls ran off to the Thames without jumping in, which normally means getting hospitalised by the police, sectioned and returning during the next few days, having terrorised the group and terrified the staff”. She described residents as being engaged in a “campaign”.

Hill said this was “a very unfair way to talk about people with a mental health problem”.

Bennett, from Tooting, was also autistic and had anxiety disorder. She had attempted overdoses and had been discovered in 2015 trying to strangle herself while in hospital. She killed herself around four months after the cost-cutting began and she was told she would have to move to another facility.

Paul Spencer, counsel for RPFI, put it to Hill that “there is a funding crisis and there has been in the social care sector for many years” and that “difficult decisions”, including staff cuts, sometimes had to be made.

Hill accepted that could be the case, but said that was no reason to have an abrupt transition which would affect clinical care of vulnerable people.


The inquest continues.
More than half of care homes fail fire safety inspection.

London Fire Brigade warns of risk to elderly as 101 out of 177 premises are told to address safety concerns.



The majority of care homes inspected in a major fire safety audit failed basic checks, it has emerged, triggering concerns that the lives of elderly people are being put at risk.

Of the 177 homes inspected by the London Fire Brigade (LFB), 101 – 57% – were issued with a formal notification instructing them to address safety concerns.

The brigade said it believed the findings would be repeated if similar inspections were carried out across the country.

Dan Daly, LFB assistant commissioner, said: “Care home owners need to review their fire risk assessments urgently. If you were placing your loved one into the care of others, you would expect them to be safe but, for too many, the very roof they are under could put them at risk.”

The brigade launched the review after a series of fires at old people’s homes. In February 2018 a resident in his 80s died and another was left in a critical condition after a fire at the Woodlands View care home in Stevenage. In 2017 two people died in a Cheshunt care home after a fire travelled through the roof, quickly engulfing the building.

Just under half – 45% – of the homes inspected were found to have an unsuitable or insufficiently comprehensive fire risk assessment, a significant concern for the LFB.

“To make a proper fire risk assessment you need to properly understand how fire can travel and develop, otherwise you’re just guessing your safety plan,” Daly said.

“You wouldn’t let an underqualified surgeon operate on you, so why allow someone without the proper experience to undertake your fire risk assessment?”

One in seven homes, or 14%, were found to have poor emergency planning or a potential lack of staff to implement the plan. A similar proportion of homes had problems with their protected escape corridors, while there were failures relating to fire doors at 29% of the homes inspected. One in 10 provided inadequate training for staff.

The LFB said it feared that fire safety training for care home staff was becoming generic.

Against the backdrop of the Grenfell tragedy, the findings make sobering reading, and the brigade has written to the care homes it inspected, alerting them of the need to conduct adequate risk assessments.

“It is concerning that operators of care homes do not in all cases understand the need for their fire risk assessment to be carried out by an assessor that is competent and experienced in these fire safety complexities,” the LFB said in its letter, seen by the Observer.

Debbie Ivanova, a deputy chief inspector at the Care Quality Commission, which monitors care providers, said it was the duty of the businesses running the homes to ensure that they had the right fire protection measures in place.

“We know that good care home providers invest in proper and regular fire training for their staff, and ensure that emergency plans are kept up to date,” she said. “But as the LFB’s findings make clear, good fire safety isn’t the norm everywhere.”
Would a turkey vote for Christmas. Care homes are private businesses trying to make a profit.
If food outlets have to have proper inspections by the authorities, then surely the same should apply to care homes?
Yet another ticking time bomb , BB ... how many does that make it in CarerLand ?

Farming out the care of our most vulnerable citizens to the private sector whose motivation is profit ?

Fine ... in countries like the USA ... a different culture ... dog eat dog ?

A National Scandal ... that most now ignore ?
Another stupid idea along the same lines, is asking care providers to conduct their own satisfaction surveys.
My son with LD was asked to fill out one of these. I'm sure any negative feedback would be quietly binned by the provider!
Care providers ... care agencies run for profit ... LAs " Delegating " their statutory duties.

Profit margins falling ... fixed sums paid over by the LAs ... exodus of staff leaving ... eventually , not worth
their while carrying on ... use their capital elswhere to gain a bigger return ?

Yep , another one to add to the pile ... which is ticking ?

Still , we can all rest assured !

That Green Paper on Social Care ... just a few weeks now.

After that , everything wll be put right ... for the next generation or two ... won't it ???
75 posts