One of the markets for private companies in recent years has been the procurement of contracts to manage hospitals. This section of our report highlights a few examples of where these contracts have failed.
In 2012 Circle won a ten-year contract to run the NHS Hinchingbrooke hospital, but pulled out after only two years following a lack of financial success and damning reports from Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC raised serious concerns about care quality, management and the culture at the hospital. It found a catalogue of serious failings that put patients in danger and delayed pain relief.
The hospital was put into special measures; the first time the CQC had taken this step. Circle cited financial considerations when announcing its withdrawal, but conceded that the CQC report had also been a factor in its announcement.
In December 2013 Serco announced that it would be pulling out of its contract to run Braintree hospital. In March 2014 the contract was handed back to Mid Essex Hospital Trust, nearly a year early.
The company's other major contract with the NHS for community care in Suffolk, did not produce the profits the company was hoping for.
By August 2014, the company announced that it was withdrawing from the NHS clinical services market altogether.
George Eliot Hospital and Weston General Hospital
In June 2014, the process to find an organisation to acquire or merge with the debt-ridden George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust was abandoned; the process began in September 2013.
An article in the HSJ notes that £1.8 million had been spent on the entire procurement process by NHS organisations prior to its abandonment.
A similar procurement process, this time to find an organisation to take over the running of the Weston General Hospital was terminated in October 2014, after very little interest; only one NHS Trust remained interested in the contract - the Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust.