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Care UK

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In 2020, Care UK divided its business into two separate companies - the care home business remained Care UK, but the healthcare business was sold in late 2019 and in October 2020 rebranded as Practice Plus Group (see separate profile for details).

Care UK is the UK's largest independent provider of social care, with more than 120 care homes across the UK, caring for approximately 8,000 people. Measured by bed numbers, Care UK is one of the five largest operators of care homes.

 

 

Strategy

In October 2019, Care UK split its business into two separate companies, one covering care homes and the other covering all its healthcare businesses.

On 25 October 2019,  Care UK Health & Social Care Holdings Ltd (the parent company) sold its shares in Care UK Healthcare Holdings Ltd to a new company Care UK Healthcare Bidco Ltd, which is outside the Care UK Group structure but still managed by Bridgepoint. Care UK Health & Social Care Holdings Ltd changed its name to Care UK Holdings Ltd.

In October 2020, Care UK Healthcare was rebranded as Practice Plus Group, containing primary care services, urgent care, prison healthcare, diagnostics, ophthalmology, hospital-based services and private healthcare. A separate profile is available on this website.

Acquisition of Silver Sea

In 2019 Care UK acquired the company Silver Sea, which had originally been set up by some of Care UK's management and Bridgepoint as a vehicle to oversee the building of care homes by property developers, that were then sold to Silver Sea, which leased them back to Care UK.

Recent history

Care UK grew through a process of acquisition and organic growth to become one of the five leading residential home companies in the UK and the leading independent sector provider to the NHS in England of elective surgical procedures, NHS 111 non-emergency service and out of hours primary care, and healthcare in prisons. It had for some time two business divisions: residential care and healthcare.

Earlier strategy

Care UK (as Anglia Secure Homes) specialised in retirement homes and sheltered housing, then added nursing homes and homecare support. Then in 1994 after being renamed Care UK, the company began acquiring learning disability support, community care and mental health services. In 2003, Care UK began providing secondary healthcare services after winning contracts to run a number of independent sector NHS treatment centres. Later Care UK entered the primary care market with its first GP out-of-hours contract. In recent years Care UK has won contracts to provide GP practices, walk-in centres, and clinical assessment and treatment services (CATS).

A notable move in November 2012 was the acquisition of Harmoni for £48 million, significantly expanding Care UK’s OOH business, including 12 NHS 111 contracts, and prison healthcare business. Following the deal Care UK is reported to provide unscheduled care to approximately 15 million people across England.

Harmoni has been active in the development of telehealth; in May 2012, Harmoni, the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), and Corinium Technologies signed an agreement to use RASAD, an ICT telehealth platform developed and owned by Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and ASPETAR (the Gulf region’s first orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital in Doha), as part of the UK’s long term health care management programme. Harmoni will use RASAD to remotely monitor patients with conditions that require regular medical observation, such as pulmonary vascular disease.

In June 2015, Care UK's mental health services were sold to Partnerships in Care for an undisclosed sum, its learning disability group was sold to Lifeways, and its homecare division was sold to Mears Group for £11.3 million.

Political Connections

Co-founder of Care UK John Nash and his wife have reportedly donated over £300,000 to the Conservative party including £21,000 to the personal office of the former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. John Nash has gained considerable power within government although unelected. In 2010 he was appointed by the UK chancellor, George Osborne to plan the drive for austerity, then in December 2010 he was appointed non-executive director of the Department of Education board.  In January 2013, John Nash, received a peerage, becoming Baron Nash of Ewelwe, and became a schools minister in the Conservative government. responsible for among other things, academies and free schools and school capital (including playing fields). He continued in this role after the Conservatives won the May 2015 UK general elections, but has now left this position. He sits in the House of Lords.

In October 2012 Jim Easton resigned from the NHS Commissioning Board to become Managing Director of Care UK. Jim Easton was responsible for the procurement process for the NHS 111 services, 12 of which were won by Harmoni. Care UK acquired Harmoni a few weeks after Jim Easton joined Care UK. Jim Easton is now Care UK's managing director for healthcare.

Financials

The most recent financial reports available are for the year ending 30 September 2020. In early 2020, Care UK sold its healthcare division, which is now Practice Plus Group, generating £160 million, which was used to reduce the company's debt.

For the full 12 months to 30 September 2020, Care UK reported total revenue as £401 million, compared to £735.6 million in 2019. The company reported a loss of £15.5 million. The average weekly fee for one of the homes was £991, up from £946 in 2019.

Historically, Care UK always received a lot of revenue from the NHS. Data collected by the NHS Support Federation estimated that Care UK was awarded £187.4 million in contract awards from 2010 to April 2016, then from April 2016 to April 2017, the company was awarded a further £596.3 million in contracts. However this is certainly a significant underestimate of the amount of income Care UK derives each year from work for the NHS. These NHS contracts are now carried out by Practice Plus Group, however Care UK will continue to receive NHS income through the Continuous Care funding for residents in its care homes and of course considerable funding from social services for residents. For the 2020 financial year 50.3% of the company's beds were filled by residents funded by social services and 49.7% privately funded.

Investors

In March 2010 Care UK was acquired by Bridgepoint in a deal worth £432 million and Care UK was removed from the public markets.

After the formation of the two companies - Care UK and Practice Plus Group - Bridgepoint was the ultimate parent company and controlling party of both companies.

In financial filings to end September 2020, Care UK Social Care Ltd is listed as the parent of Care UK, and the parent of this company is Care UK Holdings Ltd.

As of September 2020, Bridgepoint Europe IV (Nominees) Limited held 78.2% share of the issued ordinary share capital of Care UK Health & Social Care Holdings Limited. The remaining 21.8% of the issued ordinary share capital of Care UK Holdings Limited is held by Mike Parish, other members of Care UK’s senior management and a number of Care UK’s employees including the group’s Employee Benefit Trust, who together hold 20.9% of the issued ordinary share capital of Care UK Health & Social Care Holdings Limited, as well as the group’s former Chairman, whose trustees hold 0.9% of the issued ordinary share capital.

In February 2018, Reuters reported that Bridgepoint planned to sell Care UK and in April 2018 the first bids were reported to have been made for the company. However, in July 2021 Care UK was still listed as owned by Bridgepoint on its website.

Contracts

Care UK is focused on the care of the elderly in its residential homes - residents either pay privately through their own funds, or are funded by social services and the NHS (or a combination).

Concerns

Care Quality

Concerns over Care UK's healthcare services pre-2020 are outlined in the Practice Plus Group profile.

Since 2009, there have been a number of high profile cases in the national media in which very poor standards of practice by Care UK have been exposed. This included a BBC Panorama investigation which uncovered instances of gross negligence in care homes operated by Care UK. Other incidents include in 2011 the 84 year old woman who was not visited by carers for four days as Care UK thought she was in hospital and in 2012 the lack of processing of 6,000 X-rays at a Care UK-run urgent care centre.

In October 2014 concerns were raised about the quality of care at two care homes run by Care UK in Suffolk, and admissions were suspended by Suffolk County Council after an inspection by the CQC. In November, the CQC again criticised the Mildenhall Lodge home in Suffolk in a second care quality report, which highlighted concerns over how 'low staffing numbers and the use of agency staff who were not familiar with people's needs placed them at potential risk'.

Employee relations

Concerns have been raised about Care UK's management strategies which often involve vast cost cutting exercises such as front-line job losses.

A BBC Radio Four investigation on the programme Outsourced in January 2013 reported that at three residential care homes in Croydon, Surrey, outsourced by local council to Care UK in 2011, many staff accepted new lower employment terms in exchange for a lump sum of money. Basic pay changed from £11.15 per hour to £6.50 per hour, holiday entitlement was reduced and sick pay changed. Care UK entered agreements with individual employees to buy them out of their terms and conditions. Employees that did not agree were served notice. Those who were dismissed were offered re-employment under the new terms and conditions.

Financial

In March 2015, Care UK was listed in an investigation by Richard Murphy a chartered accountant at Tax Research UK, published in The Guardian that highlighted the use of tax havens by private companies with NHS contracts.

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