Most people in the UK will accept that the National Health Service is a great asset and institution but that it is flawed. Some would say it has grown into a monster but most, like myself, believe it is still worth saving. Successive UK governments have used the NHS as a political tool and more. One of the Conservative government's election campaign promises was that the NHS was safe in their hands. That they would cut the debt but not the NHS.
It seems that this was just another, in a long line of, lies.
Today November 10, 2011 news has broke that one UK hospital is being taken over by a private firm. Is this the beginning of the end of the NHS?
In recent years the NHS has utilised private initiatives. Under Labour some new hospitals were built with private industry taking a leading role. However not at any time did a private firm take over an entire hospital.
In a first in UK history, private firm, Circle, is to take over the running of a financially failing hospital. The hospital in question is Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire. Circle's role will be the hospital administration. Staff at the hospital will still be employed by the NHS but be given shares in the company. These will be linked to performance and seniority. No doubt the fats cats at the top will benefit the most. Quite possibly those who have led this hospital to fail finanically.
Circle have been undergoing a two year tender process which they have now secured. The deal gives them a 10-year contract. Circle hopes this will be the first of other such deals for them. Circle is part listed on the London Stock Exchange and was established by Ali Parsa, a former Goldman Sachs executive. It will take over Hinchingbrooke in February 2012. The 10-year deal is said to be worth around £1 billion.
Hinchingbrooke is known to have been in severe debt. The government's current line on hospitals with spiralling debts is to offer them for a take-over rather than bail them out.
Hospital treatments and finances across the country vary for many reasons, not least the financial pull on busy hospital trusts in inner city problem areas.
A hospital representative said, “It’s a hugely original deal – we’ve managed to avoid the possibility of closing the hospital. We’ve got a solution to the debt - and have plans that allow us to meet the efficiency challenges the NHS faces.” Mr Parsa said he envisaged a hospital “with everyone who works there in charge of the hospital, letting them own the problems and solve them.” He likened it to a "John Lewis" style of management. The problem is Mr Parsa a hospital is not a store. Or perhaps it should not be treat like one.
Parsa also said, "At a time when some healthcare commentators say the solution for small district general hospitals is simply to merge or be shut down, we believe NHS Midlands and East’s courage and zeal for innovation will enable us to show how clinician and staff control can provide a more sustainable alternative. Circle arrives not with a top-down plan to impose change, but with a proven methodology of unleashing NHS professionals' talent through clinical leadership and devolved decision-making”.
Circle pulled out off another hospital takeover when it did not have the control over change it desired. 20 more hospitals in the NHS have been identified by the Department for Health as failing and therefore presumably as possible take-overs.
It seems Dodgy Dave Cameron has been telling yet more lies. "Safe in our hands" You having a laugh?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog