Hinchingbrooke: Private Firm Takes Over

1 February 2012, 12:02 | Updated: 1 February 2012, 12:11

The private company that has just started running Hinchingbrooke Hospital says it wants to make it one of the country's top ten hospitals.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital has become the first NHS hospital in the country to be privately run.

Circle Healthcare has today started running the hospital.

Circle signed a contract to run the hospital in November last year following a 13 month process managed by the NHS.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital currently has debts of around £40,000,000.

Circle Chief Executive, Ali Parsa, said: "Today, an ambitious programme will be unveiled, to turn a hospital, once labelled as 'a basket case', into one of the top ten in the country.

The plan came together in unprecedented sessions with 1200 NHS staff, who gathered to share their vision for their hospital's transformation.

Like John Lewis, Circle are employee co-owned, and have a track record of creating best in class hospitals by devolving power to the clinicians and staff who are closest to patients. 

We are confident that we can do it again in Hinchingbrooke."

Doctor Stephen Dunn, Director of Policy and Strategy at NHS Midlands and East, said: "With the challenges the NHS now faces, new solutions are needed so services can be provided how and where patients want them, but at a cost which taxpayers can afford. 

Today heralds just that, a new chapter in creativity and partnership working.

Without this franchise, the future of Hinchingbrooke could have been uncertain.

We are not privatising, we are bringing in new management. 

The hospital can plan a future where its staff and assets remain within the NHS, energised by the innovation which its new partner will bring. 

NHS Midlands and East and its ground-breaking Strategic Projects Team are proud to have steered this opportunity, and we look forward to Hinchingbrooke going from strength to strength."

The union Unison has responded to the takeover, saying it "it would work with the private company now running Hinchingbrooke Hospital, to make sure it remains a good place to be a patient and member of staff."

The union reiterated its concerns about a private company taking over the hospital, warning that if it fails, the public sector, and ultimately the taxpayer, will have to come to the rescue or patients and the local community will suffer.

Karen Jennings, UNISON assistant general secretary, said: "We want, above all, to make sure Hinchingbrooke remains a good hospital – delivering for patients and investing in staff. We will work with Circle to achieve that. 

But we know that many patients and staff will be worried today about a private company coming in to run their local hospital. 

And rightly so. 

Circle has never run an A&E or maternity ward, and its only other hospital has just 16 beds, and provides non-urgent surgery. 

It’s not comparable to running a hospital of this size, or delivering services on this scale or of this complexity. UNISON wants to ensure the health and safety of all concerned."