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Profit v Patients?

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The first private company to run an NHS hospital has signed a deal which will see it take the first £2 million in profits, despite the hospital being £40 million in debt.

In February 2012, Circle Healthcare got the go ahead to take over Hinchingbrooke Hospital, which would otherwise have closed. After the first £2 million profit, Circle Healthcare gets a quarter of surpluses between £2 million and £6 million and a third of surpluses between £6 million and £10 million.

It is estimated that the hospital will need surpluses of at least £70 million over the next decade to pay off its debts, suggesting that large cuts will be made with patients and/or staff paying the price.

Critics have said that any surplus should go towards paying off the hospital’s debt, or towards improving patient care.

Circle, have, however, already made improvements to the Hospital and have turned the A&E department from the worst in the region to the best.

Andy Burnham, Labour Health spokesperson said: ‘The structure of this deal holds worrying implications for the future of the NHS’.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health states that the ‘deal has preserved this valued local service – had it not been agreed, the hospital may have had to close’.

It is not yet known whether there are any other firm plans for other hospitals and private companies to follow suit, it may be that they will eagerly await the success, or otherwise, of the Circle takeover before forming any proposals.

By clinical negligence solicitor, Claire Stockley