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The answer is yes. Those distortions exist and have caused severe problems.
The initial study that was conducted by Coopers and Lybrand clearly overestimated the number of beds needed in our locality. That has already led to the closure of one home and could lead to the closure of another one or two. The impact of that would not be great but the other company, CIC, is implementing more savage cuts. Some of the staff are taking a case, through their trade unions, to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Three members of staff came to see me recently and one of them said that her earnings had been cut from £16,000 to £8,000 a year. She continues to work constant night shifts and is wondering whether she should stay in the care sector.
As has been said, it is important to provide proper care in a regime based on good standards. What I and other hon. Members have seen does not convince me that such provision exists in all areas. It is tragic that the poor provision reflects on those who provide excellent care in other parts of the country. In my area, privatisation has been seen as a quick fix--a way of having some excellent buildings built and others upgraded--but it has not been the answer to providing care in residential and nursing homes. It has been a bad move and staff in the caring sector are beginning to feel the rough end of it. They have had a raw deal. I appreciate that the Minister cannot speak about terms and conditions, but they are vital in regulating how people carry out their day-to-day work, which is then reflected in the care and service that we provide for our elderly people.