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Second hospital could be franchised to private firm

The Department of Health and Treasury have approved a process that could lead to a second district general hospital trust being franchised to a private company.

Board papers published by the NHS Trust Development Authority (NTDA) reveal George Eliot Hospital in Warwickshire could now pursue a path that might see a merger with another trust or a franchise - like the one that saw Circle Health take over Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust in February last year.

The report said it would be “prudent” to expect service commencement with a new strategic partner to begin in April 2015.

The document said “the specific business management model of a potential partner was more important than its organisational form in securing sustainability”.

“There is no preferred organisational model and an open procurement should take place in order to test a wide range of innovative proposals from both NHS and independent sector providers,” it added.

The trust indicated in December that it wanted to seek a partner “in the best interests of the hospital, its patients and staff” and that options included being taken over or being run as a franchise, along the lines of Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust’s arrangement with Circle Health.

Among the organisations who have indicated an interest in running George Eliot are Circle Health, Serco, Care UK, South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, the Dudley Group Foundation Trust and Burton Hospitals Foundation Trust.

An NTDA spokesman said: “The most important thing for the patients of George Eliot and the people of Warwickshire is to secure its long term sustainability. It has a history of quality and financial issues, needing more than £100,000 a week of external support to break even over the last two years.

“Money should be spent on patient care not on servicing debt. George Eliot would undoubtedly need on-going support in future years if it continues in its current state. The scale of savings required in the future means this is unlikely to be achieved in its current form.

“That is why the NTDA is helping the trust to find an alternative provider within the NHS or, if necessary, the independent sector to ensure high quality, sustainable care.”

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Readers' comments (5)

  • tinkerbell

    What could possibly go wrong? Another hospital closure looming when the private sector make a complete arse of it trying to make a profit over patient care. They can dress it up as much as they like with all their fancy talk about 'ensuring high quality care' but I see little evidence when I'm out and about visiting the private sector elderly care homes who struggle to provide care with skeleton staffing levels.

    When I suggested to private home manager they needed more staff she replied 'ain't gonna happen'.

    They can't turn a profit if they provide adequate staffing levels. Something's gotta give and it ain't gonna be the profit. No conflict of interests there.

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  • I live and work in Scotland and every day there is a new horror story about the privatisation of the NHS in England (where I happily worked for a few years). I used to be all for the UK staying together, but when I see this, I think that I will be voting for independence next year. The thought of Scotland going the same way fills me with fear and I'd rather take our chances going it alone. Unless we UK nurses rise up together and take a stand against these disasterous policies in England, we are finished.

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  • Looking at the first three potential partners I agree totally with Tinkerbell, what could possibly go wrong????

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  • I guess this is just the start of total privatisation and the end of he NHS.

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  • if you are going to privatise the whole of the NHS why don't the government announce their intentions officially and then do it in a systematic manner rather than have all this speculation and uncertainty which impacts on the wellbeing of the staff and directly on the health and safety of patients?
    there needs to be a concrete plan which everybody can understand and follow.

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