A Cambridgeshire health care provider said last night (Wednesday) that “as it moves to a liquidation” it had closed with immediate effect –and all staff ordered to return company phones, ID badges and uniforms as soon as possible. Beaumont Healthcare of St Neots also warned staff that it doesn’t have the money to pay them all they might be owed.
The most recent set of accounts (current accounts are overdue at Companies House) show Beaumont employs around 120 people.
And in Cambridgeshire alone they looked after 150 people in need of care, some with complex needs.
Gordon Ward, CEO outlined the grim news in a letter, seen by CambsNews and dated November 8.
“It is with regret that we must now information you that your final day will be today, November 8th, 2023,” he said. “You will be paid for your work to this day inclusively less than any outstanding loans existing.
“As the business moves to a liquidation and formal closure, this will mean that any notice pay, accrued holiday and redundancy where applicable, should be claimed through the redundancy payments scheme.”
Mr Ward had begun by explaining that events had speeded up following the closure of the business and followed the decision to hand back packages of care across Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
“We have engaged with the relevant bodies to ensure the transfer of patients in a controlled and safe manner,” he said.
“This process has moved at pace to reduce considerably the workload and requirement for cover ahead of the planned notice end date.
“Given the financial responsibilities and implications of this reduction in work upon the business, our close date has accelerated, and our detailed review of staffing has resulted in a requirement to immediately bring forward the final working day for a significant amount of the staff across the business as volumes reduce.”
Mr Ward told staff a liquidator, once appointed within the next 28 days, that would deal with matters. Staff would also be supplied with an outplaced consultancy to assist with their claims.
He concluded by thanking staff for “their valued input and commitment to the business over many years and in particular over the past few difficult weeks”.
He wished them “all good fortune in securing new positions in the very near future”.
Union denied talks with company
Rob Turner, Unison branch secretary for Cambridgeshire, said Beaumont Healthcare had refused to respond to all Unison Cambridgeshire County requests to engage in any dialogue.
He said the letter from Mr Ward “gives immediate notice of dismissal. It also indicates that all staff will not receive any payments from the company but will have to defer to the Redundancy Payment service for all outstanding financial commitments the company is not meeting.
“These costs will be picked up by the tax payer and as it appears that all staff will be directed to the RPS, will amount to a considerable cost for the tax payer”.
Mr Turner said: “The letter describes that details will also be supplied for an outplaced consultancy to assist with claims when what is needed is immigration advice for the many stranded overseas workers.
“That advice can only be given by an immigration lawyer; the Unison Cambridgeshire Branch is soliciting the services of the JCWI at a considerable expense to supply that much needed support.
‘Tip of iceberg’ warning
Unison has previously said the urgent requirement of Cambridgeshire County Council to find an alternative provider for 150 people following Beaumont withdrawing its contract “might just be the tip of an iceberg of a Cambridgeshire care crash”.
Mr Turner said finding an alternative care provider in such a short time frame was always going to be a tough call.
In a statement issued to CambsNews, Beaumont Healthcare said: “We have been providing care services to the region for nearly 30 years. We have had the pleasure of working with thousands of families over that period, often at a difficult time for them, and it has been a privilege to look after their loved ones.
“The region has always had significant difficulty in recruitment of sufficient care staff, Beaumont Healthcare became involved with the Home Office to be granted the first Visa for overseas care staff, since then we have recruited thousands of carers who have contributed very significantly into the care sector, locally and nationally.
“All our recruits were brought here under strict ethical recruitment policies observing the laws of both the UK and their home countries.
“These staff have proved to be a wonderful addition to the UK local staff and combine to make a brilliant team who have supported all our work over the years.
“It is therefore with great sadness that we have now to end our contracts as it has become unsustainable within the financial constraints to continue.
Hopeful of finding jobs for workers
“Beaumont Healthcare are working with the local authority and various agencies to ensure a safe handover of care to other providers and are continuing to provide care at the present time pending those transfers and assisting staff to transfer to these agencies and finding alternate employers for them.
“We would like to thank the local authority, the Integrated Care Board, families, and service users, and of course our wonderful staff for all their hard work over the many years.
Beaumont Healthcare Ltd of Colmworth Business Park, Eaton Socon, St Neots, told the county council on October 16 that it no longer wished to provide the services.
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “We are naturally disappointed that Beaumont Healthcare have served notice on the county council and the ICB (Integrated Care Board).
“They provided homecare services to 150 clients of Cambridgeshire County Council.
“Our priority now is to identify alternative providers. We are currently in discussion with all our clients and their families to provide reassurance that the service they currently receive will continue as seamlessly as possible.”
Fears for financial fall-out
Mr Turner said: “Beaumont Healthcare is the first major provider of care for vulnerable citizens in our community to go under, but it won’t be the last. Unison are aware that the council is in discussions with several other companies, in similar situations, this might just be the tip of the iceberg of a Cambridgeshire Care Crash.”
Mr Turner said: “The many vulnerable people that receive these services, should be of the greatest concern. We are aware that Beaumont Care have called some of the recipients of care services, asking if they withdrew care immediately, if they could manage.
“Unison urges the council to develop a strategy to bring in house these services, protecting the services to our highly vulnerable citizens and the employment of the workforce.
“Many of these are overseas workers and as a result of this crash, should they not find an alternative sponsor in the coming weeks, face a daunting prospect of having to return to their country of origin.”
He added: “It was a disaster to let our care services be determined by accountants, whose job is numbers not people.
Plight of elderly and vulnerable residents
“Going into the winter months Unison fears for the plight of our elderly and vulnerable residents who will be at a considerable risk, and we urge our MPs’ in the East of England to campaign for adequate funding so the rising costs of social care needs can be met.”
Union officials are speaking to the staff at Beaumont. Some of its workforce affected by the contract termination have certificate of sponsorship agreements.
The certificate of sponsorship is an electronic record issued approved by the Home Office. It allows applicants from abroad to obtain a health and care visa, as it proves terms of employment, including the salary, start date, and general responsibilities.
Unison says half the workforce of Beaumont Healthcare are their members.
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