Former nursing home staff still owed payment

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A solicitor for the former owner of a Portadown nursing home says his client is working hard to reimburse ex-employees after it closed down suddenly last year.

It follows complaints from some former staff from Glenview Nursing Home that some money owed to them is still not forthcoming 18 months after the business closed.

The Bleary Road facility closed in January 2017 after a series of inspections by the Regulatory and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

At the time owners Brendan and Bernadette Breen clarified the events leading up to the closure - pointing out that it was due to a shortage of staff nurses and unrelated to RQIA inspection findings.

At the time all 25 residents were moved to alternative nursing homes - with staff describing tearful scenes as many had to be transferred by stretcher to the waiting ambulances.

The 49 staff, ranging from carers, kitchen staff, domestics, cleaners and maintenance workers, were left having to find alternative employment.

However, while it is understood all the staff were paid redundancy from a government scheme, Mr Breen is required to repay that funding.

It also transpires that a number of staff, some via the UNITE union, took the owner to an Industrial Tribunal to recuperate monies owed for holidays and notice.

While Mr Breen is required to pay this to the affected former staff, it is understood he has a cashflow issue and is attempting to realise assets.

One care assistant who claims she is out of pocket £800 says she is still waiting for the money she is owed.

Mr Breen’s solicitor Mr John McKenna of McEvoy’s in Lurgan said his client is doing all he can to raise funding to repay the government redundancy fund and his former staff.

“His financial standing is rigorously scrutinised. He does not have the money,” said Mr McKenna.

“He is trying to realise his assets to repay the money,” added the solicitor.

At the time of the home’s closure Mr Breen said ‘due to circumstance outside of my control I could no longer assure the regulatory bodies that I would have sufficient staff nurses to work within the home to provide 24-hour cover.

“I had attempted to secure cover via agencies but unfortunately that is not always guaranteed so I had no choice but to voluntarily withdraw my registration.

“As a result the Southern Health Trust took on responsibility for the residents and placed them in alternative accommodation as a matter of urgency. I can only apologise for any distress or concern caused and seek to reassure you that we are co-operating fully.”