Page last updated at 19:45 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 20:45 UK

Private firms could run hospital

Hospital sign
The Cambridgeshire hospital owes the NHS 40m

Private and public sector organisations are being encouraged to apply to run an NHS hospital in Cambridgeshire.

In October, NHS East of England (EoE)will be inviting partners interested in running Hinchingbrooke Hospital from April 2011 to put in applications.

Andrew MacPherson, director of strategic projects for EoE, said the scheme was unique in the NHS.

He said he hoped private firms, charities and in-house NHS teams would put forward bids to run the hospital.

Mr MacPherson said it was hoped that the winning organisation would find a way to deal with Hinchingbrooke Hospital's historic £40m debt to the NHS.

'Exciting opportunity'

He said staff at the hospital were doing a great job, but NHS EoE wanted to find more creative ways to improve services.

"This is an exciting opportunity and it also means providing a sustainable future for Hinchingbrooke," said Mr MacPherson.

He said the plans also secure the hospital's maternity and accident and emergency departments.

In October NHS East of England, together with the Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, will be inviting expressions of interest from in bidding for a "franchise" to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital from April 2011.

Mr MacPherson said: "We are fully committed to a transparent and inclusive process for the benefit of all stakeholders."

Before the process starts, an independently-chaired Stakeholder Panel is being set up to represent the interests of local people and Hinchingbrooke Hospital staff at every stage.

A preliminary business meeting of the Stakeholder Panel will take place on 2 September 2009 from 1400 until 1700 BST at the Assembly Rooms at Hinchingbrooke House in Huntingdon.

A spokeswoman for NHS Cambridgeshire said all staff would continue to be employed by the NHS, which will still own the hospital and its assets.

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