The Business On: Dr Chai Patel, Chairman, Court Cavendish

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The Independent Online

That name rings a bell.

Both of them should – we'll come to Dr Patel in a moment, but Court Cavendish was a well-known care home company in the 1990s. It eventually merged with a rival, operating for a while as Care First, before being bought by Bupa in 1997.

And Dr Patel?

The founder of Court Cavendish, he went on to buy Westminster Health Care, which he ran for several years. It became Priory Healthcare, the owner of those well-known clinics, and was bought out four years ago.

What's he been doing since?

After getting out of the Priory, he restablished Court Cavendish as a specialist adviser. But now he's on the verge of a much bigger role.

Don't keep us in suspense ...

Court Cavendish is teaming up with NHP, which owns 250 of the homes operated by struggling Southern Cross. The alliance plans to take over the operation of the homes – basically, they're creating a new company from part of Southern Cross, and Dr Patel will likely be in charge.

That's good news, right?

This will certainly ease the worries of staff and residents at these homes. Still, there are 250 more Southern Cross homes to worry about.

But Dr Patel knows his stuff?

His businesses have always beensuccessful, which is more than you can say about Southern Cross.

So who is he?

Dr Patel, now 56, was born in Uganda but moved to Britain aged 15 with his parents, who opened a shop. He excelled academically, qualified as a doctor, but quit the NHS for the City. The contacts he made helped him to launch Court Cavendish in 1988.

Nothing to worry about at all?

There have been controversies. He withdrew from consideration for a Labour peerage in 2006 after it emerged he had lent the party substantial sums. And he had to resign as a trustee of the charity Help the Aged in 2002 amid concerns about one of his company's homes. But he will be seen as a safe pair of hands for Southern Cross.