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Think tank calls for private sector to run up to 30 NHS hospitals

Private companies should be allowed to bid to run up to 30 NHS hospitals, 21 of which of the Department of Health has already classified as ‘clinically and financially unsustainable’, according to an influential health policy think tank.

Takeover: tackling failing NHS hospitals argues that the current favoured policy of mergers between failing NHS hospitals will not work.

The report, authored by Professor Paul Corrigan, former health adviser to Tony Blair, calls for private companies and the best NHS hospitals to take over troubled hospitals because he says that is the surest way to turn them around.

‘Supporting mergers between unsuccessful NHS hospitals because you cannot find anything else to do with them is not going to suddenly make mergers a successful method of improving failing hospitals,’ said Professor Corrigan.

The report adds that forcing underperforming hospitals to merge with other underperforming hospitals will fail because it creates larger underperforming hospitals.

The paper recommends that chains of hospitals could be run by the best NHS foundation trusts and private companies, to develop centres of clinical excellence with strong brands. 

It says this would also cut costs and improve the quality of the care delivered, by spreading best practice and achieving economies of scale.