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University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust

Way opens for private bids as trust pulls out of hospital takeover


University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust has pulled out of the bidding process to run neighbouring George Eliot Hospital Trust, making it appear certain a private firm will be involved in its management.

The withdrawal, on Tuesday, leaves two private companies – Circle and Care UK – and South Warwickshire Foundation Trust left in the running for the hospital trust in Nuneaton.

George Eliot announced a shortlist of five possible bidders shortly before Christmas, but Ramsey Healthcare withdrew last month. The trust’s board agreed in August 2011 that it had no future as an independent organisation and would have to merge or be run as a franchise by another body.

Andy Hardy, chief executive of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust, said: “Due to a combination of technical issues and our desire to focus even more on our future sustainability and bid for foundation trust status, we have taken the strategic decision to withdraw our bid.”

George Eliot’s chief executive Kevin McGee said: “The process to find a strategic partner will continue with the remaining shortlisted organisations and we look forward to reviewing their detailed solutions to protect and develop services at the trust.”

Unions argued that the development had “tipped the scales towards a privatisation stitch up”.

They claimed the bidding process overseen by the Trust Development Authority (TDA) had applied new criteria set by Monitor. The “financial liquidity” criteria were changed to exclude NHS hospitals with a private finance initiative project, such as University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust, they said.

Christina McAnea, the union’s head of health, said: “It is a bit rich that the NHS hospital has been ruled out on financial grounds, when Care UK and Circle have clearly got financial issues of theirown. 

ChristinaAmandakendalChristina McAnea

She added: “The whole franchising process is being rigged in favour of the private sector. It is an unfair playing field in which the NHS has one hand tied behind its back. Today’s decision shows that what is in the best interests of local people, patients and staff now come second.”

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell added: “It appears that the goalposts have been moved to open the door wide for private healthcare companies to take over general district hospitals.

The hospital has become the first district hospital that the TDA has allowed private companies to tender for in a bid to reverse the hospital’s poor performance and high death rates which are now being robustly addressed.

Ms Maskell said: “We believe that the future of district hospitals in England lies in a fully resourced, joined-up NHS and not being parcelled out to bidders from the private sector.”

George Eliot has 318 beds, with 2,000 staff. The hospital opened in 1948 – the same year as the NHS – and is running a £5m deficit.


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Readers' comments (4)

  • So much for the Coalition's assurances that they are not privatisers. How is it Circle are not knocked out on financial stability grounds as would be the case in a commercial competitive tendering action. They will almost certainly win the bid as they will tie it up with their Huntingdon contract. As has been the case with privatisations like Serco in Suffolk - the NHS is handing over work for these companies to use for product development. Wither integration with community and social services across a commercially enforceable contract?

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  • I feel sorry for the patients and the vast majority of excellent staff who I'm sure work very hard and will be feeling extremely demoralised and anxious about the future.

    You can't blame the Government or the Coventry Trust, the blame for this whole sorry episode lies squarely at the feet of the George Eliot management team: if they'd done what they were paid to do then none of this would've happened. Unfortunately, where the NHS fails, the private sector will come in and monopolise. We may not like it (I certainly don't) but we are where we are.

    Until NHS trusts wake up and start employing people in senior positions with business experience who can look at things critically, rather than the time-served NHS Luddites that seem to infest Trusts up and down this land then the George Eliot saga will be repeated again and again.

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  • tinkerbell

    Unite head of health Rachael Maskell added: “It appears that the goalposts have been moved to open the door wide for private healthcare companies to take over general district hospitals.

    the doors of Pandoras box have been flung wide open. All the evils of profit before patient care have been let loose. More to follow.

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  • I agree with anonymous George Eliot Hospital should stop blaming other people because they have brought it upon themselves by lying about a lot of things, one of them is dismissing patients complaints by not taking it seriously instead brushing it under the carpet and saying the patient is at fault.

    Kevin McGee, CEO and Sturat Annan have to be sacked from their post because they have failed the patients of Nuneaton, they as well as other senior management team are solely responsible for the trouble George Eliot Hospital is in.

    It's very rich of Christina McAnea, the union’s head of health and Unite head of health Rachael Maskell to start complaining, where were you when the rate of deaths were very high and people who could of been saved were dying, you werent complaining then but you are now because once it goes private your say won't count nor will the voice of Kevin McGee be heard because he won't be in a job and by saying we have improved in 6 months just so the Government goes away then GEH are deluded because it won't happen as the people of Nuneaton will not the current people running GEH continue to let and run the hospital they way it has ran until now to see the hospital being ruined in front of our eyes.

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