NHS hospital is taken over by a private social enterprise

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 11 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7341
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

After months of detailed auditing by the Treasury and the Department of Health, the first deal under which a private company will take control of an NHS hospital has finally been signed.

Circle, a John Lewis-style social enterprise co-owned by its employees, was selected to run the troubled Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire in November 2010 after a beauty parade of would be contractors had been held. Its contract ought to have started in June this year but intensive examination of the contract terms caused delays. It will now be February 2012 before the 10 year contract begins.

Hinchingbrooke faced severe financial difficulties and possible closure or merger with another trust before the search for a suitor began. The only NHS trust on the short …

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