Circle becomes first independent body to run English NHS acute hospital

Social enterprise, part-owned by staff, will run Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust in Huntingdonshire

Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust
Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust

A social enterprise has won a tender and become the first independent organisation to run an NHS acute hospital in England.

Circle, a London-based social enterprise, has been lined up to take over the running of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust in Huntingdonshire.

The social enterprise, part-owned by its staff, already runs day-surgery hospitals in Nottingham and Burton and employs more than 1,000 seconded NHS staff.

Circle will take over the operation of the hospital from 1 June next year, subject to approvals from the Department of Health and other regulators. It is likely to have a 10-year contract to run the hospital.

Dr Stephen Dunn, director of strategy at NHS East of England, said: "We have selected a cutting-edge partner with an innovative approach that will propel Hinchingbrooke into the premier league.

"This is not privatisation. Staff and assets will be protected, and the taxpayer will not be forced into bailing out Hinchingbrooke. This could be a model for hospitals that face similar challenges."

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