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Page last updated at 08:05 GMT, Monday, 13 June 2011 09:05 UK

Southern Cross boss: 'I am very sorry'


The chairman of troubled care home provider Southern Cross has apologised for the "uncertainty and concern" caused by difficulties in the business, but has said that residents should not fear widespread programme of home closures.

"All our landlords are committed to achieving a consensual solvent outcome to this process where a restructured Southern Cross emerges," Christopher Fisher told John Humphrys.

"Through this process paramount concern is addressed to continuity of care."

On Wednesday the stakeholders in the company, together with the NHS, will release a statement on the future of the business, seeking to allay the concerns of residents.

But as any negotiation has to involve the landlords who own the homes and who each have their own management structure, any agreement will not be easy.

Mr Fisher accepted that "relatively small numbers" of care homes could close, but that this would be a five-year programme during which Southern Cross would not "avoid or evade" its responsibilities.

"Looking ahead, any decisions on home closures will be ultimately for the landlords of those homes," he said.

But he rejected the suggestion that the care homes were struggling because of the business decision to lease all their homes from landlords, arguing that lease structures provide better stability than bank lending.

He said that no-one at Southern Cross had been stripping money out of the business, and their "complete priority" was to improve the standard of care and reduce the company's the borrowings.

"There is a lot that is going on in Southern Cross at the moment that is hugely beneficial to our residents. It is very important that we earn the chance to sustain what we are doing."

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