NHS has been 'put up for sale': Labour accuses Government over possible sell-off district general hospital

 

The NHS has been “put up for sale” by the Coalition government, Labour have claimed, as it emerged that the Department of Health has approved the possible sell-off a district general hospital.

Board papers published by the NHS Development Authority (NDTA) show that the George Eliot Hospital in Warwickshire could be acquired by another NHS trust or “a franchise that may be a non-NHS organisation”.

If the hospital were acquired by a private company it would become the second in two years, after the Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust was taken over by Circle Health in February last year.

The Health Service Journal reported that the Department of Health had been willing to see the trust begin a process that could lead to franchising, but was awaiting approval from the Treasury, which has now been granted.

Andy Burnham, Labour's shadow health secretary said that the decision represented “privatisation driven from the top”.

“Everywhere you look, chunks of the NHS are being broken up and handed to the private sector. With this announcement, it is now proceeding at a pace and scale never seen before,” he said.

“Ministers have spent all year running down the NHS and their real intent is becoming increasing clear - preparing the ground for more privatisation.

”Far from doctors deciding, this is privatisation driven from the top down. David Cameron needs to be reminded he's never been given the permission of the British public to put the NHS up for sale.“

The NDTA report, authored by the organisation's director of delivery and development, Dale Bywater, said it would be ”prudent“ for services to commence with a new ”strategic partner“ at the George Eliot on 1 April 2015.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, last year became the first in the history of the NHS to be run by a private company. The Circle Partnership pledged to turn around the failing 223-bed trust, which was £40m in debt. The trust received high scores in recent patient feedback tests.

The George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust provides hospital and community services for around 300,000 patients. The trust has been seeking a partner ”via a competitive procurement process“ for several months.

According to the HSJ, several organisations have indicated an interest in running the George Eliot, including Circle Health, Serco and Care UK as well as other local NHS trusts.

Mr Burnham has also written to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, after it was reported that a multi-million pound contract to treat NHS patients with brain tumours was awarded to healthcare giant Hospital Corporation of America International (HCA), which has donated money to the Conservative party. Mr Burnham has asked to know what contact ministers had with HCA, which has donated at least £17,000 to the Conservative party since they came to power.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust has been given approval to seek a partner to ensure that sustainable and high quality care is available for local patients in the future.  This will now be considered at a NHS Trust Development Authority board meeting and the Trust will decide how they move forward following this.”

“What is most important is that patients at George Eliot Hospital can access sustainable, high quality care and treatment for years to come. No decision has yet been made and this process is open to both NHS and non-NHS organisations. The Trust will choose the best solution for local patients.

“The successful bidder will be subject to the same rigorous regulation from the Care Quality Commission as other hospitals. They must also continue to improve patient care, and will be accountable to the hospital board, staff and patients they serve for doing so.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

    £30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada