Southern Cross Healthcare

Interim management helps southern Cross Healthcare at a time of crisis

Southern Cross Healthcare was the largest independent provider of care homes and long term care beds in the UK operating over 750 care homes, housing 31,000 residents and employing nearly 44,000 staff.

The challenges

In early 2011 southern Cross faced a financial crisis and by July 2011, attempts to rescue the company failed. It was announced that all its care homes, residents and employees would be transferred to other operators by the end of 2011. southern Cross’s announcement to close created huge media attention, involved discussions with the Care Home minister and was even debated in Parliament.  It was essential that the transfer of the homes and employees was dealt with in the most discreet and professional manner.

Southern Cross urgently required experienced Tupe specialists to handle this high profile project and the transfer of southern Cross employees and the Trade union (GmB). Tupe is an acronym for the Transfer of undertakings (Protection of employment) regulations. Tupe protects employees’ terms and conditions of employment when a business is transferred from one owner to another.

Russam sourced Chris Conway an experienced Hr and Tupe interim specialist with over seven years’ Tupe experience which included a similar project with northern rock in 2010.

The assignment

Chris’s assignment at southern Cross focused on the transfer of its care homes to other operators from September to December 2011. In this time he had to transfer all southern Cross employees, assets and care homes to 49 new operators in total.

He held consultations with employees and dealt with queries and claims issues from the Trade union (GMB), tribunals and employees private lawyers. Chris also acted as the relationships manager to the new operators in relation to the Tupe transfer and dealt with any queries about the process.

Chris comments: ‘Dealing with nearly 44,000 employees it was clear that not all employees were happy with the announcement that they would move to another care home operator. There were many discussions and conflicts which needed to be resolved.”

He adds; “This assignment incorporated all the aspects I enjoy the most about my work; working in a pressurised environment to tight deadlines; having to think on your feet and juggle so many balls all at one time! It was a rewarding and unique experience.”

Patricia Williamson, Group Hr Director for southern Cross comments: “Chris is an experienced, competent Tupe Hr manager who was able to build excellent relationships with both operators and other members of the project team. Chris provided great support to a challenging and complex transfer process, ensuring the smooth transition of Homes, residents and employees.”

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