Just One NHS Trust on Short List to Take over Debt-Ridden Hospital

By Shifrin, Tash | Public Finance, January 15, 2010 | Go to article overview

Just One NHS Trust on Short List to Take over Debt-Ridden Hospital


Shifrin, Tash, Public Finance


Five private companies are in the running to take over a debt-ridden Cambridgeshire hospital, with just one rival shortlisted from within the health service.

Andrew MacPherson, director of strategic projects at East of England Strategic Health Authority, told Public Finance that the scale of the challenges facing the health service amid tightening public finances had made other potential NHS bidders think again.

The move to hand over the running of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, which has a £38m historic debt on an £80m budget, would be the first use of the governmenf s controversial franchise policy since its relaunch in 2008.

Private sector franchising has been used only once, in 2003, when consultancy Tribal won a contract to manage Birmingham's Good Hope Hospital. The contract was terminated early after promised quality improvements failed to materialise.

The Hinchingbrooke franchise has been opened to expressions of interest from within the NHS, along with private firms. But just one - Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - has been shortlisted.

The SHA had received 'a fev/ expressions of interest from NHS trusts, MacPherson said.

But he added: 1We had a lot of interest, but as [NHS] plans for 2010 emerged, there was some strategic reflection at NHS boards, that although they'd like to be at the party, there were other priorities. …

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