Cambridgeshire

Concern over Hinchingbrooke Hospital take-over

Concerns have been raised by The British Medical Association (BMA) that only private firms have been shortlisted to run a failing hospital in Huntingdon.

Three companies were chosen to operate Hinchingbrooke Hospital from next year. The public sector could also apply.

The BMA annual meeting has called for a monitoring of the contracting process.

NHS East of England said it was pleased the BMA does not oppose the plan but had called for a "level playing field".

In August, NHS East of England said it hoped that the winning organisation would find a way to deal with Hinchingbrooke Hospital's historic £40m debt to the NHS.

'Preferential treatment'

The three shortlisted companies are Circle Health, Ramsay Health Care UK and Serco Health.

The committee suggested, through a motion at a BMA national conference, that the process should be observed "to ensure that no special funding arrangements are provided to the successful bidder".

The BMA should also "scrutinise this experiment in order to ensure that the private sector is not given preferential treatment and to ensure that patient care is not compromised," the committee added.

Andrew MacPherson, director of strategic projects at NHS East of England, said the process had been transparent and an equal opportunity for both private and public organisations.

He added that clinicians, including GPs, were involved in the project.

The tendering process is due to begin in August, with the successful applicant chosen in September.

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