UNISON says the National Audit Office (NAO) report into the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital by private company Circle should act as a warning of the dangers of bringing the private sector into the NHS. There is still a big question mark over the lon …

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UNISON says the National Audit Office (NAO) report into the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital by private company Circle should act as a warning of the dangers of bringing the private sector into the NHS.

There is still a big question mark over the long-term financial viability of Circle and the threat that might pose to future patient care in the local area.

The union is calling on the Department of Health to ensure that other NHS hospitals do not get pushed down the franchising route before the Department of Health studies the risks highlighted by this report.

UNISON Head of Health Christina McAnea said: “This NAO report shows that the privatisation of Hinchingbrooke Hospital is still an experiment and a dangerous one at that.  The savings that Circle is predicting are unprecedented and that should sound alarm bells for patients and for the services that the hospital currently provides.  Contrary to what we were told at the time of the bidding process, the savings are at the expense of staff with between 270 – 300 jobs being cut. And the hospital now has several wards lying empty.

“Much more needs to be done to investigate the impact of Circle’s funding arrangements that depend on private equity.  We know that it has had to negotiate a £4m advance because of cash flow problems and we must defend the NHS from a Southern Cross style collapse.  It is vital that this privatisation experiment is not extended into other parts of the NHS.“

Cuts can have a devastating impact on patient care and the NAO points to an increase in the number of cases of C Diff, which UNISON believes is down to the fact that Circle has cut the cleaning contract by one third.


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