The union, which has more than 100 members across the Sanctuary Group, has consistently warned that Sanctuary’s ‘relentless’ attacks on the pay and conditions of low paid staff would put vulnerable people at risk. 

Unite made the comments after it was revealed a criminal investigation into Garside House care home in Westminster was launched following a CQC inspection that found instances of serious medication errors, residents being wrongfully deprived of liberty, dehydration, understaffing and a lack of training. 

The running of the nursing home was outsourced by Westminster city council in 2015 in order to ‘deliver savings’. Some Sanctuary staff are paid just £8.54 an hour – £2 below the London living wage – despite the firm making a profit of £77 million last year. 

The Sanctuary Group, which in addition to care provides social housing, supported living and commercial services, was also the subject of a year long Channel Four Dispatches investigation last March. The investigation uncovered the ‘shocking conditions that tenants of one of Britain's biggest housing associations live in, and the effect those conditions have had on vulnerable tenants' health.’

Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed said: “The CQC report on Garside House shows that something is clearly wrong with the way Sanctuary is operating. Unite members at Sanctuary Care have consistently warned the firm’s relentless cost cutting to staff pay and conditions would put vulnerable people at risk.

“Sanctuary’s management cannot be held directly responsible for the actions of a few individuals. But relying on a low paid, overworked and underresourced workforce to provide vital care services increases the risk of what happened at Garside House occurring elsewhere.

“We urge all local authorities who have contracts with Sanctuary Care to bring them back in-house and for Sanctuary bosses to improve pay and conditions for staff, which is not only the right thing to do but necessary to improve standards.

“We also call on Sanctuary to recognise Unite so that staff have a voice and are protected against retribution when they flag wrongdoing. In fighting on reductions to terms and conditions which our members felt were detrimental to vulnerable clients, we also had to represent members who were allegedly victimised for speaking out.”