Circle open to more NHS contracts post Hinchingbrooke

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Circle has said that it remains open to taking on more NHS contracts after it announced its withdrawal from the contract for Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Circle won the first contract for a private provider to run an NHS hospital in 2009, and announced its intention to withdraw in January 2015. 

When asked by the chair of the Public Accounts Committee if the private healthcare group might take on another NHS contract, Steve Melton, CEO of Circle Holdings, said: "We would have to look at what the terms are, and whether we can create a stable commercial environment to attract the kind of investment that's needed to transform these kinds of services."

Richard Douglas, director general for finance and the NHS at the Department of Health said: "There's nothing in Circle's performance that would say they wouldn't be considered in the future in the right circumstances," for another contract.

The hospital was the first in the country to be run on contract by a private company for the NHS, the aim is that hospital will return to being run by the NHS by the end of March 2015.

The announcement of the withdrawal from the contract came hours before a report criticising the hospital was published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Steve Melton, CEO of Circle holdings, said: "Our reasons for leaving the contract are the rising demand, the falling funding mechanisms and our inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of necessary reforms coming through in time.

"The CQC inspection process was going on in parallel through the last year but was not the reason for us withdrawing from this contract."

Circle lost money on the contract to run Hinchingbrooke hospital, Melton acknowledged to the committee. Circle had been expected to find £311m of savings during the ten years it would run the hospital.

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