Private firm to end first hospital deal

'Failed experiment'
'Failed experiment'

The first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital trust is to pull out of the deal, sparking a political row and warnings that staff and patients face “huge uncertainties” about the future.

Unions said that privatising Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire had been a “dangerous government experiment” which was guaranteed to be a failure.

Circle Holdings said the level of cash it had pumped in to prop up Hinchingbrooke healthcare trust was about to reach £5 million, meaning it would have the right to terminate the franchise.

It pointed to “significant changes in the operational landscape for NHS hospitals” since the contract was first procured in 2009.

Circle said there had been unprecedented increases in accident and emergency attendances, a lack of care places for patients awaiting discharge, and funding had been cut by 10.1 per cent during the current financial year.

Labour blamed the Government, saying the coalition appointed Circle in November 2011 and so “must take responsibility for the mess”.