Franchising of second NHS hospital pre-approved

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George Eliot Hospital (resized) A second NHS hospital is being put up for competitive tender, with both NHS and private sector providers bidding for the franchise.

According to the NHS Trust Development Authority, George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton will be managed by a “strategic partner” from 1 April 2015.

The NTDA plan for a takeover or merger now has the backing of the Treasury as well as the Department of Health.

The same process led to the takeover of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire by Circle Health last year. Circle’s failure to reduce the hospital’s debts according to its schedule prompted the resignation of its CEO, Ali Parsa.

According to the report, the NTDA found that “the specific business management model of a potential partner was more important than its organisational form in securing sustainability.

“Therefore there is no preferred organisational model and an open procurement should take place in order to test a wide range of innovative proposals from both NHS and independent sector providers.”

Organisations bidding to manage George Eliot Hospital include Circle Health, Serco, Care UK, South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, the Dudley Group Foundation Trust and Burton Hospitals Foundation Trust.

An NTDA spokesman said: “The most important thing for the patients of George Eliot and the people of Warwickshire is to secure its long-term sustainability. It has a history of quality and financial issues, needing more than £100,000 a week of external support to break even over the last two years.

“That is why the NTDA is helping the trust to find an alternative provider within the NHS or, if necessary, the independent sector.”