Plans to cut 700 catering staff jobs at ailing care homes firm Southern Cross raises the risk of increased malnutrition, according to the National Association of Care Caterers (NACC).
Britain's biggest care homes operator, which looks after 31,000 elderly residents at 750 homes, is struggling to stay afloat because it is unable to pay an annual rent bill of £230m and has been hit by lower fees from local authorities.
Its half-year losses were £311m and last week Southern Cross said it was cutting the jobs of as many as 3,000 people, including more than 700 catering staff.
Derek Johnson, chair of the NACC, said: "We hope this does not compromise the nutritional care of their residents, as this is vital to their well-being and quality of life.
"Failure to ensure this essential part of any resident's care could put them at risk of malnutrition, thereby undermining their health, which may lead to more high-cost care packages or admittance into hospital, which has to be funded by the tax-payer."
The chairman of Southern Cross, Christopher Fisher, told Radio 4's Today Programme that in any of its typical care homes with a capacity for 50 residents, the company made a profit if 46 of the beds were occupied and a loss if occupancy fell to 43.
By Janie Stamford
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