Care UK runs 85 residential homes and provides care for more than 17,000 people across the UK. It was the first private company to run a GP surgery, and is now the largest operator of NHS independent sector treatment centres. Care UK runs GP practices, NHS walk-in centres and out-of-hours services, and is bidding to take over management of the NHS George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton.
In 2010 Care UK was bought by private equity firm Bridgepoint, whose advisors include former Conservative Party and current BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, and former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn. Bridgepoint's complex restructuring left the company mired in debt and high interest rates but shrunk its tax bill by taking out loans through the Channel Islands. Ownership and management were split, in an arrangement resembling that of failed care home operator Southern Cross.
In July 2012, Care UK invited health campaigner Alex Nunns to apply to become a "Media Relations Executive" with the company. His brilliant, acerbic reply became a viral hit, receiving 73,000 views in one day. He wrote: "If there’s just one thing that Care UK knows how to do – and there is – it’s take money from the state. I would make a bigger deal of the fact that 96 per cent of Care UK’s revenue comes from the NHS. That’s the kind of solid base that any company would envy – taxpayers’ money, minimal risk, easy profits."
Care UK is nominated for:
Using shadowy finance arrangements to avoid tax.
(Source: Guardian 17/3/12, Corporate Watch 17/3/12)
An opaque and complex business structure, mired in debt and high interest rates.
(Source: Corporate Watch 22/12/11, Corporate Watch 10/5/11, Guardian 1/11/11)
Care UK chairman John Nash's £21,000 donation to Andrew Lansley while he was Health Secretary.
(Source: Telegraph 14/1/10, Daily Mail 15/1/10)
Failing to process X-ray records of 6,000 NHS patients.
(Source: Channel 4 News 17/4/12, Guardian 17/4/12)
Receiving millions of pounds of NHS cash for treatments that were never performed.
(Source: Pulse 4/2/11, Bolton News 16/6/11, This Is Nottingham 4/8/09)
Providing services that are more expensive than their NHS equivalents.
(Source: Pulse 12/4/10)
Refusing to treat a sick pensioner - later diagnosed with meningitis - at an NHS walk-in clinic.
(Source: Hackney Gazette 30/7/12, East London Lines 2/8/12)
Instances of neglect and poor standards at residential homes.
(Source: STV News 28/8/12, Surrey Comet 14/5/11, Panorama 9/4/09)