Circle Holdings, which operates Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, said its franchise is “no longer viable under current terms”. Hinchingbrooke Hospital: Circle to withdraw from contract (BBC News, 9 January 2014)
Statement from Dr Louise Irvine of the National Health Action Party
The withdrawal of Circle just 3 years into its controversial 10-year contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital is exactly what we warned and predicted would happen and illustrates the folly of private sector involvement in our NHS. When the going gets tough, the private sector gets going – and dumps NHS patients. The privatisation experiment has lamentably failed. The NHS will now have to pick up the pieces. This illustrates why the market has no place in healthcare. This contract should NOT go back out to tender, but should go straight back to the NHS.
It’s interesting that the reasons cited by Circle are increased pressure on A&E, insufficient funding and lack of beds for patients waiting to be discharged. Welcome to the world of all NHS hospitals, struggling with these very problems created by the policies of this government.
The successful PR campaign claiming to have “transformed” the hospital masked a continuous failure to meet financial targets — and as a result meant not a penny of profit to Circle. A get-out clause is triggered once Circle has put in £5 million of its own money allowing it to walk away, although it has to pay in another £2m to do that.
And behind the PR statements about Hinchingbrooke being a shining example of excellent patient care, the reality is very different. A recent letter from the CQC following a preliminary inspection listed a whole catalogue of failings, from emotionally abusive patient care to poor medical practice. It also highlighted a blame culture making it hard for staff to raise concerns. The company refused to meet staff unions, and has been found it hard to recruit or retain sufficient staff — pushing up spending on agency staff.
Circle’s management of Hinchingbrooke had been feted by government and media as a shining example of how the private sector could improve on the NHS – but now it’s been shown to be shiny on the outside, but hollow on the inside.
Dr Louise Irvine is standing for the NHA Party against Jeremy Hunt in the general election in South West Surrey
HSJ article on CQC letter about Hinchingbrooke failings (at foot of page): http://nhap.org/cqc-flags-up-serious-concerns-about-privately-run-hinchingbrooke-hospital/
Helpful article from John Lister here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/john-lister/first-privatised-nhs-hospital-success-or-smoke-and-mirrors