Private firm starts running NHS Hinchingbrooke Hospital

 

Circle says it can turn Hinchingbrooke Hospital around cutting bureaucracy and improving efficiency

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A private firm has become the first to start running an NHS hospital.

Circle, which is co-owned by doctors, has taken on managing Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridgeshire, which had been threatened with closure as it grappled with £40m of debt.

Circle aims to find a solution to the debt problems of the hospital by attracting new patients.

Union Unison said although the hospital had been saved, it was concerned at involving private firms in the NHS.

The groundbreaking £1bn, 10-year deal will see Circle assume the financial risks of making the hospital more efficient and paying off its £40m of debts.

Circle said it wanted to work with the hospital's staff to improve the safety of its services, and to minimise the number of times patients have to travel to the hospital for different appointments.

Specific timelines are being set for improvements in areas, such as the amount of time nurses spend with patients.

Changes will be led by units - each consisting of a doctor, nurse and administrator.

Analysis

Circle believes it can make an immediate difference to patients at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. But in the longer term the more profound effect could be felt across the entire health service.

The situation the Cambridgeshire unit found itself in - with high levels of debt - is far from unique. There are another 20 or so NHS trusts in similar situations. In the future, that number could grow even more.

How to keep these hospitals viable is one of the key questions for the NHS in the 21st Century. Many have argued they need to close, but not everyone shares that doomsday view.

Some NHS trusts are looking at mergers with larger hospitals, while others are seeking to develop their portfolio of specialities to attract more patients. But if the involvement of the private sector can make a difference, interest in such arrangements will grow.

The NHS in the East of England said the takeover was saving a small hospital from having to cut services or close altogether.

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 10 in the country.

"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."

Dr Stephen Dunn, director of policy and strategy at NHS Midlands and East, said: "I think this is a historic day for the NHS."

Hinchingbrooke Hospital Hinchingbrooke serves a population of about 160,000 people

He said Circle had put forward a "rigorous plan of improvement" to patient care and food quality.

Dr Dunn said this scheme was vital to the survival of Hinchingbrooke.

"Without this process we might have had to close the hospital or cut services," he said.

Phil Gooden, regional organiser for Unison in the East, said that although he welcomed the survival of the hospital he was concerned at private involvement in the NHS.

He said Hinchingbrooke, which had no private beds, may start bringing them in at the expense of NHS beds.

Dr Dunn said there were no plans to start having private beds, although it could not be ruled out.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 103.

    French pay in to system while working and pay for treatment when they are ill. State refunds a proportion, you can insure to refund the rest. Not member of system - no refund. I've lived in France 5 years after early retirement so I'm only just entitled to join the system (if I had private insurance I couldn't join). State pensioners join automatically. Cuts out freeloaders - would help UK?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 102.

    11.00 back on the lower part of the front page and at the bottom of hys.
    which is something

    That Fred Goodwin nonsense, completely irrelevant to 99% of people is being given "top priority"

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 101.

    @74 muttlee
    "worrying about privatisation of the NHS,there is a huge difference between this example"

    The greatest threats to liberty comes in small steps.

    This is a company headed by an ex-banker.
    Floated on the stock-exchange.

    This is ideological privitisation subsidised by our tax and leaving us the riak.

    (S&P will be used to assess Hosp. soon too !)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 100.

    Of course the NHS will continue to have problems when it is free. The German's have a part government funded/part private great system with great treatment, but that's because you must make a sizable contribution each month when you are working. The result is world class, clean, high-tech and efficient hospitals.... but that's what we want in the UK for free, isn't it?
    Have you heard of NI?!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 99.

    Given that the majoority oif GPs are not employees of the N"H"S but are classed as self-employed contractors to the health service, ie run profit-making businesses, primary care is effectively privatised and always has been.Yet we're always being told how wonderful primary care is.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 98.

    Of course the NHS will continue to have problems when it is free. The German's have a part government funded/part private great system with great treatment, but that's because you must make a sizable contribution each month when you are working. The result is world class, clean, high-tech and efficient hospitals.... but that's what we want in the UK for free, isn't it?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 97.

    Say no to the privatisation of the NHS

    Say yes to Independence.

    Roll on The Independence Vote

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 96.

    Pratically the only info. on the co. comes from the co.

    Even that highlights weaknesses to taxpayer:

    - Jersey incorporated company (tax avoidance?)
    - 1 Dr on board of 6(Claims run by Dr.s & nurses?)
    - Controlling share owned by co. (not John Lewis model)
    - £2m buy out for them unless they go £5m overbudget then its free
    But we are fully liable (good deal?)

    Medical care untested yet.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 95.

    Neil
    17 Minutes ago

    Can someone please explain...

    Circle will be given more money than the hospital trust. This is a political project. They cannot fail.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 94.

    The bottom line is this. the NHS should not be in debt in the first place. when the NHS was set up the the government would GIVE the NHS monry to look after the BRITISH people. now we have people from all accross the world comeing to the uk just so they can use it. not only that the government thinks that they can now make money of it. it is wrong. cameron is bringing it to its knees.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 93.

    Notice they plan to solve financial problems 'by attracting new patients.' That just takes money out of other NHS hospitals, which in turn end up in trouble as well, particularly as Circle will obviously focus on drawing in the most 'profitable patients'.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 92.

    Let's hope this start to get NHS up to the standards that patients deserve. For every hospital that gets into financial trouble, let them go bust and get the PFI leaches off their and our backs. Then get private companies to bid to run them. If they do a bad job, let it happen again. No need for the hospital to close, or for nurses and doctors to lose jobs, just get rid of poor management.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 91.

    The debt was forced on the hospital by the PFI that used to run it for a new shiny treatment center that was supposed to bring in patients from afar...it didn't hence even more debt.
    I have visited there several times and each time witnessed a crowd of pinstriped suits and local councillors touring the place and praising it to the hilt.
    Nice building..Waste of money now were all paying for it.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 90.

    "Circle aims to find a solution to the debt problems of the hospital by attracting new patients."At what price I tell you the ones who can pay before the ones who can't

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 89.

    Maybe the government should start to force the PFI companies to compensate the hospitals for mis-selling financial products. Like they did with ppi for people who were foolish enough to sign up for it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 88.

    86. Gort2012
    How is it possible for an individual NHS hospital to go in to debt in the first place?
    -
    This article might give you some idea.
    http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/Kier-Group-PLC-Kier-Sells-afxcnf-1008603345.html

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 87.

    77. Surely, its a given that all of us just want a successful, well-run hospital when called upon
    ______

    This is the point. If privatisation is allowed to occur (and make no doubt about it, that IS the end goal for this coalition) then there may well be a successful, well-run hospital but for a LOT of people the calls for it will go ignored as their treatment won't be profitable. It stinks.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 86.

    How is it possible for an individual NHS hospital to go in to debt in the first place?

    what are they borrowing against?


    Why hasn't any debt simply been rolled into the national debt. £40m is
    nothing in comparison.

    This is front door privitisation against all parties mandates.

    You risk losing the skills for when something goes wrong or is expensive.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 85.

    Can someone please explain to me how the loss of a % of revenue (as profit to a private company) can possibly benefit a health service. Also, the private sector is often as inefficient and labouring as the public so how will enough money be saved to pay back £40m

    It just doesn't stack up and will leave the NHS like our water, rail and electricity. Useless, expensive but profitable to a few.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    This story has ALREADY been dropped from the BBCs front page...

    Conspiracy?

 

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