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RCN demands transparency as firm takes over hospital


The Royal College of Nursing today called for full “openness and transparency” over the deal signed by the government last night which hands a private company management control of an NHS trust.

The contract, signed at 11pm on Wednesday night hands Circle Health a 10-year management franchise of Cambridgeshire-based Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, beginning in February 2012.

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said the deal was a “hugely significant development, with wider implications for the provision of health services across the UK”.

He added: “It is vital that there is full openness and transparency around the deal and that Circle continues to provide a comprehensive range of services that can be easily accessed by the local community.

“We know the NHS is under huge financial pressure to save £20 billion by 2014 and that Hinchingbrooke Hospital is carrying about £40m of debt. These financial gaps must not be plugged by cutting local services such as accident and emergency in the future.

“It is also crucial that Circle continues to recruit and retain the right numbers of staff with the correct skills to ensure the highest possible patient care. There is clear evidence that the quality of care and patient safety is improved when you have the right numbers and skills in place on wards.”

According to a statement released by the company this morning, Circle has agreed to cover any losses made by the hospital once it takes over, up to a limit of £5m. If the hospital loses more than that on Circle’s watch, either the company or the NHS can terminate the contract. In this case Circle would have to pay the hospital an extra £2m termination fee, but its potential losses on the deal are capped at £7m.

Speaking to Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal this morning, Circle chief executive Ali Parsa said the company would hand nurses and doctors at the hospital control and responsibility for running their services.

“I’m a huge believer that the problem is not the people, the problem is the system, he said.

Whereas in the past managers at Hinchingbrooke had been told they “have to have complete control over everything people do”, Circle would tell them their job was to “facilitate what people at the bottom do”, he claimed. Control and responsibility for the running of services and delivery of efficiency savings would be devolved to clinical units of 20 to 50 staff members, with big decisions made “collectively”.

But trade union Unite said for the last 18 months, the government had been “actively gearing up to privatise the NHS – and now at the first opportunity they have done so”.

National officer for health Rachael Maskell said: “We predict that in 12 months’ time, services will decline and some hospital staff will have been made redundant or will be facing redundancy. Circle is a profit-making firm whose first priority is shareholder satisfaction, and not patient care.”


Readers' comments (8)

  • all i can say good bye NHS, it has now seriously started

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  • i agree
    this is the tip of the iceberg

    privatisation is starting, im so proud of our un-elected eton morons

    just you watch few months down the road, there will be redundancies etc, this company is there to make a profit
    you carnt run a hospital like a factory!!!

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  • I agree, I have always said you cannot run healthcare like a business there are too many variables.

    So it begins, doubtless there will be many interested parties watching the fate of this trust.

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  • this is the last straw peter carter! when will RCN members understand that thay are only covering their own backs and know bowing down to a private company its the pits transparentcy ya what back hander is ???? getting out of it??????????
    its a case of do as i say and jump or out!
    watch this space

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  • attempts to apply the principles of industrial management, designed for profit non-profit making healthcare organisations simply does not work. Basic commonsense should dictate this and to the healthcare professions who are given little say in the running of their organisations this is blatantly obvious. The same rules required for the production of inanimate objects simply cannot be used in service provision to patients, who in case those trying to apply these rules have failed to notice, are animate, sentient individuals just like themselves! They cannot be processed like manufactured goods and classified and then have packages of services applied to them and at a fixed cost!

    Hospitals and healthcare facilities are NOT factories or bear any relationship whatsoever to the manufacturing or processing industries, whose purpose and outcomes are entirely different.


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  • tinkerbell

    Agree with all comments above.

    'A profit driven model will undermine all that is precious about the NHS. Furthermore, it will produce an underclass of patients with chronic, debilitating illness, who will be seen as pariahs by those organisations who seek financial benefits over and above good health'

    Our society will be damaged as a whole by these changes. You cannot put a price on protecting the vulnerable and sick, a wonderful hallmark of our civilisation is being eroded. Our NHS is priceless because of its underlying principles and values 'healthcare for all'.

    It will be one service for the rich and one for the poor, a 2 tier national health service.

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  • tinkerbell

    Have a look at this:

    For a year Andrew Lansley has refused to release a report into the risks of his NHS plans, written by his own Department of Health. Now the Information Commissioner has ordered him to publish it. But he could still keep it hidden for another month – until after key votes on his plans have taken place.

    We can’t afford to wait that long. The House of Lords is debating the NHS plans right now – if the report on risks to the NHS is released immediately, it could persuade key members of the House of Lords to stand up to the government.

    Let’s raise an uproar in Parliament and force Lansley’s hand.

    It took me two minutes to e-mail my MP to ask them to call for this report to be released straight away. Can you email your MP right now?

    Click to send your MP an email:

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  • Did anyone else notice this little gem:

    Whereas in the past managers at Hinchingbrooke had been told they “have to have complete control over everything people do”, Circle would tell them their job was to “facilitate what people at the bottom do”,

    I wonder who counts as the people at the bottom? And come to think of it, who are the ones at the top? And who is managing them?

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