August 11, 2011 3:13 am

Bupa hits at UK policy on care homes

Ray King, chief executive of Bupa, has criticised the UK government’s policy on care homes, saying that the sector was heading towards crisis because of lack of funds.

Mr King called on the government to “address the chronic underfunding of care” before the closure of private homes causes a “bed blocking” crisis for the NHS.

The comments came as the private medical group reported lacklustre half-year results in its UK care home division. The company’s profits grew overall, however, thanks to a healthy rise in international sales.

Bupa, which is a provident company with no shareholders, reported a 51 per cent jump in pre-tax profits to £244m ($394m) for the six months ended June 30, led by a strong performance in its Australian and Asian divisions.

International revenues were up 14 per cent, while turnover in Europe and North America fell by 2 per cent. Sales were up 6 per cent to £3.9bn.

Bupa’s UK care home business fell in profits and occupancy. Revenues in the division globally were up 1 per cent while profits rose 2 per cent.

About 70 per cent of Bupa’s 18,000 care residents are paid for in part by local authorities, which are facing severe budget squeezes, or primary care trusts. Southern Cross, the UK’s biggest operator, said it would close down in July after it was unable to pay the rent on the homes.

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