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Private investment is key

A top surgeon says a deal that sees Britain’s first private healthcare firm take over the running of an NHS hospital is “great news for the health service”.

The 10-year deal involving Circle is expected to cost the company £1bn. The firm has also accepted responsibility for the £40m debt of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, which was threatened with closure.

Professor Laurence Kirwan, a Harley Street plastic surgeon and fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Most hospitals in the USA are private institutions. They are run in fiscally responsible way and the CEO is in place for decades rather than months.

“The executive functions with the oversight of a board, which consists of financially successful members from the local community as well as the input of the various committees appointed by the medical staff.”

Kirwan said: “The level of excellence of private hospitals in the US is outstanding. Obviously, there are exceptions. Some of the major problems with running private hospitals in the USA has been the skewing of payments by government subsidy and taxes on hospitals.”

“I feel sure that private hospitals in the UK run with the administrative input of physicians will do well since the doctors are the ones responsible for quality of care. The administrative staff of the NHS has ballooned out of proportion in terms of staff and decision making power. I hope that this is a trend that will continue and leave the NHS as a soft-landing for those who don’t have the ability to pay for private care.”

“I think however, that everyone, whatever their means, should contribute something to their care so that they recognise its value and don’t take it for granted. Britain needs to change the cradle to grave ‘nanny state’ and the government and should free up the taxpayers’ power so that can contribute to their own healthcare,” he said.