George Eliot hospital NHS trust is considering outsourcing services to Circle, which already runs Hinchingbrooke hospital
A Warwickshire NHS trust is in talks with potential partners over the possible privatisation of some hospital services.
The George Eliot hospital NHS trust, based in Nuneaton, said it is in discussions about forming a partnership with Care UK, Serco and Circle, which has a 10-year contract to manage Hinchingbrooke health care, a small acute trust in Cambridgeshire.
Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health, said: "When Hinchingbrooke hospital was taken over by Circle earlier this year it was described by government as a one-off, but clearly this is not the case. We now see the George Eliot hospital as potentially next in line to be taken over by a private company.
"In the case of Hinchingbrooke the potential losses that Circle would have to cover were effectively capped. The NHS has to pick up the rest. If the George Eliot is taken over by the private sector we're likely to see a good deal for profits, but a bad deal for the NHS."
The health and social care bill, due to be passed within weeks, will open the way for greater private sector involvement in the health service, despite the government's attempts to downplay the privatisation of the NHS.
George Eliot hospital said that, like many smaller district general hospitals, it is unlikely to meet the government's requirements to reach foundation trust status by April 2014 on its own.
As a consequence, the management team at the hospital has been assessing how this could be achieved and, as part of their planning process, has invited interested parties to discuss future organisational models.
It is also in talks about forming partnerships with three foundation trusts: Burton hospitals, the Dudley group and South Warwickshire.
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".
SA Mathieson, senior healthcare analyst for public sector market intelligence provider Kable, said: "If George Eliot does outsource its management to the private sector, it would be only the second acute trust to do so after Hinchingbrooke, an arrangement which is just a month old.
"However, with more than 40% of acute trusts yet to gain foundation status and two years to go until the government's deadline, many will consider management outsourcing. The success or failure of the trailblazers will decide whether this becomes a common option."
This article is published by Guardian Professional. Join the healthcare network to receive regular emails and exclusive offers.
Read the complete post at http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2012/mar/13/nhs-trust-george-eliot-hospital-privatisation-talks
Mar 13 2012, 06:53 AM
Healthcare Network | guardian.co.uk