One of the UK's largest care home networks, which has a home in the borough, has called in administrators today.
Four Seasons Health Care Group, which operates Shawcross Care Home in Bolton Road, Ashton, appointed administrators today (Tuseday) amid struggles to repay its debts. The independent sales process is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The business, which has around 20,000 employees and 17,000 residents, said the administration process would only affect its holding companies Elli Finance (UK) and Elli Investments, but the companies that run its homes and hospitals would be safe from collapse.
Group medical director Dr Claire Royston said: "Today's news does not change the way we operate or how our homes are run or prompt any change for residents, families, employees and indeed suppliers.
"It marks the latest stage in the group's restructuring process and allows us to move ahead with an orderly, independent sales process."
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, whose constituency Shawcross Care Home is in, said: “This is worrying news for patients, staff and relatives of loved ones and demonstrates that social care funding is in crisis. Government cuts to local authorities alongside rising care costs have all impacted on Four Season’s finances and ability to trade.
“It is a relief to learn that funding has been found in the short term to maintain continuity of care whilst a new owner is found.”
GMB, the union for care workers, says the Government must urgently step in to reassure Four Seasons staff and residents as the company looks on the brink of going bust.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: “The possible collapse of Four Seasons shows our care system is in crisis, it is crumbling beneath us because the funding isn’t there.
“Lack of funding in the care sector is putting the profession - and all of our futures – in serious danger.
“Throughout our lives, we will all come into contact with care - be it our mums and dads needing help, working as a carer or knowing someone who does. Ultimately we will all need it ourselves.
“But instead of taking action, this Government keeps kicking the Green Paper on social care into the long grass.
“Instead of wasting all their time bickering over Brexit, the Conservatives must pledge to step in and make sure Four Seasons facilities continue to operate and give tens of thousands and workers and residents the reassurance they need.”
Richard Fleming, joint administrator of holding companies Elli Investments Limited and Elli Finance (UK), said: “We are committed to ensuring the Group delivers continuity of care as we work to undertake the independent sales process.
"The Group has continued to improve its quality ratings across their portfolio of homes and hospitals. The Group’s operations are fundamentally strong and a successful sales process will enhance those operations’ ability to thrive.”