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Nigel Crisp
"I will be asking whether there are management teams within the NHS who will be willing to bid to run the failing trusts"
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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Private sector could run failing hospitals
Hit squads may be brought in to run failing hospitals
The NHS chief executive has admitted that management teams from the private sector could be brought in to run failing hospitals.

Nigel Crisp said he could consider using the firms if they had experience in working with the public sector.

But the government has been quick to distance itself from Mr Crisp's comments.

And officials have denied that anyone will be brought in from outside the NHS to run those hospitals which fail to make the grade.

Later this year I will be inviting the best managerial teams from the best performing trusts to bid to run the handful of failing trusts

Nigel Crisp, chief executive of the NHS

Failing hospitals

Mr Crisp told journalists at the NHS Confederation annual meeting, in Manchester, that he was considering a number of different options for dealing with the trusts which came bottom of the performance tables this autumn.

Another could include management teams from the best performing NHS trusts being invited to bid to run hospitals judged to be in trouble.

And he said that managers who had left the service and independent consultants would also be considered.

They would be asked to set out a business plan saying how they intended to turn round one of the failing hospitals.

"Later this year I will be inviting the best managerial teams from the best performing trusts to bid to run the handful of failing trusts.

"There will be extra resources for doing so but through contracts that will stipulate the improvements in service both patients and staff will expect to see."

The number of failing hospitals this year is expected to reach 12, although Mr Crisp said all of these would not need the radical management overhaul's.

Mr Crisp told conference delegates that the NHS would no longer reward poor performance.

"It is one of the odd things about the NHS - whereas most organisations give extra resources to reward good performance we tend to give extra resources to bail out poor performance.

"This is something we must change."

Mixed messages

He said that while services were performing well they would receive the extra cash to use as they need, but he stressed that there would be strings attached.

Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the NHS confederation, said the government and Mr Crisp did seem to be sending out "mixed messages" on who was to run the failing hospitals.

Stephen Thornton, of the NHS confederation
Stephen Thornton said there were mixed messages about who would run the failing hospitals

"We have heard today that franchising will be kept within the NHS family and not open to private companies.

"But, we have also heard that there will be a right to bid to take on the management of failing trusts that will be opened up to the NHS managers who leave the service and also independent consultants.

"This is creating unnecessary uncertainty.

"We are not against radical solutions, including involvement of the private sector.

"We just need early clarity about the options being considered and a process for engaging others in this thinking."

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