Private company take over struggling hospital
- Published on Thursday, 10 November 2011 09:26
- Posted by Scott Buckler
A groundbreaking £1bn, 10-year deal for a private firm to run a struggling NHS hospital has been confirmed.Circle, which is part-listed on the London Stock Exchange, is to take over Hinchingbrooke hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, from 1 February 2012
The deal will see Circle assume the financial risks of making the hospital more efficient and paying off its debts but the hospital will stay in the NHS.
The company must maintain services but unions fear staff numbers could be cut.
Although private sector firms already operate units that treat NHS patients - such as hip replacement centres - the firm will become the first non-state provider to manage a full range of NHS district general hospital services.
Hinchingbrooke hospital is one of about 20 hospitals in England which has faced an uncertain future, and the possibility of closure, because of long-term financial problems.
It is carrying about £40m of debt and its financial status has been given a high risk red rating by the NHS. The franchise deal with Circle was developed after concerns that the hospital had become unviable, and a local campaign to maintain services.
Circle describes itself as a social enterprise because 49.9% is owned by a partnership of employees. Others see it as a private business as the rest is owned by its parent company, Circle Holdings, which is listed on the stock market.
Source: BBC News