Chai Patel, chairman of HC-One, says it’s time for the government to fix and regulate care home sector fees

Few entrepreneurs would cheerfully accept state control of the prices they charge, let alone call for it to be imposed. But then Dr Chai Patel is no conventional businessman – and these are desperate days for the social care sector in which he is a key player.

“I’d be very happy if the government wanted to have a price regulator, like we have in utilities, because this service is a public good, an essential public good,” says Patel, chairman and acting chief executive of HC-One, one of the leading care home chains. “Let’s have somebody tell us the fair margin that you should make in this sector and then see if we can, open-book, confirm that we’re doing that but no more than that.”

Would other providers go along with such an idea? “I think you would find that more and more would agree with what I am saying,” he says. “We have to reopen the debate about all this. Not only does social care need to be properly funded, or it will collapse, but if we don’t do it then the health service will collapse as well.”

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