A second hospital trust is considering handing its management over to a private company – despite Government assurances that the first to do so, Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, now run by Circle, was a ‘one-off’ due to unique circumstances at that hospital.

George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, in Nuneaton, is in the early stages of talks about its future, which could include a partnership with the private sector. There are six potential partners in the mix, according to the Financial Times – including Serco, Care UK and Circle, as well as three other NHS trusts in the Midlands that are also interested.

The George Eliot, a 344-bed hospital, has a poor patient safety record and suggests it could struggle financially without a radical change in the way it operates. It is unlikely to achieve foundation trust status by April 2014 on its own.

The Department of Health told the FT: “When Hinchingbrooke was announced it was – and remains – a unique model. We understand the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust has recently begun to explore a range of options, which might include partnerships with the independent sector, as one of the possible options for its future.

“However, it is very early days and exactly what model this might be is yet to be determined locally.”

Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said more private sector takeovers of NHS hospitals would be a “bad deal for the NHS”.

Kevin McGee, chief executive of the George Eliot, said: “It is important to be clear that we are not at the stage of selecting an organisation to partner with; we are investigating what future shape our hospital should take and how best to achieve that.”

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for National Health Executive an essential guide to health service managers offering a wide view of healthcare news, views and opinions