Thursday, June 02, 2011

profits before people

The residential hospital where vulnerable patients were bullied and abused by their carers is owned by a secretive Swiss private equity company backed two of Ireland’s richest businessmen. The huge profits being made from social care have angered families who say their relatives are being mistreated or given sub-standard support.

Winterbourne View, near Bristol, is one of more than 50 similar homes owned by Lydian Capital Partnership, a Geneva-based investment fund backed by a consortium of investors including JP McManus, the billionaire businessman and racehorse owner, and John Magnier, the racehorse breeder. The fund’s involvement reflects the increasingly profitable nature of providing social care. Lydian Capital Partnership bought Castlebeck Care, a Doncaster-based company which owns the residential hospitals, for £255 million in 2006. The NHS and local authorities pay Castlebeck an average of £3,500 a week to care for each patient. Since Lydian Capital Partnership bought the company its annual turnover has risen by 80% to £55 million a year.

A source close to Lydian Capital said: “This is a consortium of investors, they are very much hands off. They are very rich and remote people who invest in a range of things and Castlebeck happens to be one of those. It’s investment strategy is to buy companies and then sell them off for a profit.”

Terry Bryan, a former nurse at the residential hospital near Bristol, highlighted repeatedly the use of force by staff. "Human rights were being violated every day but everyone thought what they were doing was OK. I went to work there and started saying you can't do this. They called me a ‘do-gooder’.”

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