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10 November 2011, 07:05
The Department of Health has confirmed to Heart final approval has been given for a private company to take over a 'failing' NHS hospital in Cambridgeshire.
Circle Healthcare will now start running Hinchingbrooke Hospital, which is £39 million in debt.
A formal announcement was made to the Stock Exchange at 7am today (Thursday 10th November).
Under the terms of the ten year agreement, Hinchingbrooke Hospital will remain a part of the NHS and will continue to be free for patients to use.
Health Minister Simon Burns said: "This trust has had severe problems for the last decade and this is a great opportunity to turn its fortunes around. Had this deal not been agreed, the situation was so severe that Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s future would have been in serious doubt.
This process, which was agreed by Andy Burnham when he was Health Secretary, will deliver improved patient care and will put the hospital on a sustainable financial footing for the future.
NHS patients will continue to use the hospital in the same way as now. The hospital will continue to deliver NHS services provided by NHS staff from NHS buildings."
Circle was chosen as the preferred bidder to run the Trust in November 2010 following a thirteen month procurement process, which began in October 2009.
The Department of Health has been scrutinising that decision for the last year.
Dr Stephen Dunn, Director of Policy and Strategy at the Strategic Projects Team at NHS Midlands and East, said: "This is a momentous day.
Without this partnership, the future for Hinchingbrooke could have been uncertain.
Now, we have a solution which aims to repay the hospital’s taxpayer debt of almost £40m, as well as giving it the best chance of a sustainable future.
Patients will continue to receive high quality NHS services from NHS staff in the NHS hospital they know.
This is not privatisation.
Staff and assets will remain in the NHS."