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NHS hospital to be run privately

10th November 2011

A private firm is to take over the running of a struggling NHS hospital.

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The 10-year £1bn deal will see Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, run by Circle from 1 February.

Circle, which is part-listed on the London Stock Exchange, will assume the financial risks of making the hospital more efficient and paying off its debts but the hospital will stay in the NHS.

The move is the first time a non-state provider will manage a full range of NHS hospital services, although private sector firms already operate some NHS units.

Circle chief executive Ali Parsa said while the task being taken on by the company was a challenge he felt a strength of its approach was in increasing the involvement of doctors and nurses.

He added: “We want to create a John Lewis-style model with everyone who works there in charge of the hospital, letting them own the problems and solve them. We will try everything we can to make this small hospital viable.”

Hinchingbrooke hospital has about £40m of debt and its financial status has a high risk red rating by the NHS. It is among 20 hospitals in England which has faced an uncertain future and the threat of closure because of those financial problems.

The NHS in the East of England says the hospital will continue to be paid at NHS rates for its work while it is being run by Circle.

Public sector union Unison said it felt a new management team could have been found without putting a contract out to tender.

 

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