A tender process for the running of George Eliot Hospital Trust in Nuneaton has been abandoned, it was announced yesterday.
The decision not to pursue the process to identify a partner organisation followed “significant improvements in clinical performance” at George Eliot over the past year, the trust said in a statement.
“The improvements delivered are testament to the efforts of all our staff”
Chief executive Kevin McGee, said: “Recent improvements have surpassed what we expected and this has led to us re-evaluating the process to secure a sustainable future for the trust. There is still a great deal of work to be done and this approach will enable us to build on the improvements we have already made.
“The improvements delivered are testament to the efforts of all our staff who have worked tirelessly over the past year to deliver real benefits to patient care,” he added.
Mr McGee highlighted a range of improvements to care quality and performance over the past year. For example, the trust is no longer considered a patient mortality outlier and its accident and emergency department was one of the best performing in the country in December and January against the four-hour target.
There had also been mprovements against a range of national standards, including waiting times, harm free care statistics, ward moves, and the number of pressure ulcers reported, he said.
However, despite the clinical improvements, the £123m turnover trust is in significant financial difficulty, and forecasting a £7.9m deficit for the end of 2013-14.
The tender process, which was being run by the NHS Trust Development Authority, began when the George Eliot board decided it could not reach foundation trust status on its own.
The trust was placed in “special measures” last year and “buddied” with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust to try and help its performance.
The three remaining bidders in the process were South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, which wanted to take the trust over, and private providers Circle and Care UK, which had both submitted bids to run it as a franchise. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust pulled out of the bidding process in February.
Mr McGee said: “Although I recognise this will be disappointing for the three organisations that submitted solutions to partner with the George Eliot. I would like to thank them for their contributions to the process; the Board was impressed with the submissions, which were all of a high quality.”
South Warwickshire chief executive Glen Burley said: “We are extremely disappointed with the decision to stop the process to find George Eliot Hospital a long term partner for the future as we firmly believe that an integrated Warwickshire organisation is best for patients and the sustainability of the health economy.
“We understand that this process hasn’t been stopped because of the quality of the bids and we now need to take some time to understand this decision and the impact it will have.”
Unions had opposed the takeover process due to fears that it would lead to a private franchise like that at Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust.
Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “Right from the start, the whole franchising process was
fundamentally flawed and was a smokescreen for privatisation. Today’s decision is a victory.
“It was quite obvious that the arguments set out in the original business case were no longer valid,” she said. “There had been no recognition of the progress being made by the trust.
“What’s more this progress has been made with the support and expertise that’s available within the NHS,” she added, noting the positive involvement of University Hospitals Birmingham.
“This outcome is of national significance”
Unite national officer Rachael Maskell said: “This outcome is of national significance and should be used as a model for turning around local hospitals which experience difficulties. Selling off the NHS to the private sector is not the answer.
“The NHS needs to come together and work together to stop the Tories privatising the NHS and putting profits before people.”