Circle Healthcare, the private company currently running the Treatment Centre on Nottingham University Hospitals Trust’s Queens Medical Centre campus will go to court on May 15 to protect its profits. It has launched a legal challenge to the Rushcliffe Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decision to award the £320m contract to the Nottingham University Hospitals trust.
Having lost out twice to the NUH Trust in the new contract to run Treatment Centre services, Circle is now going to court for a second time, claiming the Trust can’t possibly treat NHS patients for less money, and that bringing the contract back in-house would be “unrealistic” and “not in patients’ interests”.
One especially bizarre claim by Circle, a company owned by hedge funds that has yet to deliver a profit, and whose private hospitals depend upon NHS-funded patients was that NUH could not be seen as reliable because it was running a deficit. The controversial company has had a number of major failures in the past, not least the collapse of acute dermatology services in Nottingham after they took over that contract.
Circle now allege that the cost of in-house services would be higher, due to staff benefiting from “improved NHS terms” – an admission that they have been underpaying staff up to now.
The in-house bid has been approved both by the CCG and NHS Improvement’s Regional Director of Finance.
Campaigners are stepping up the pressure to ensure Circle don’t get another chance. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out on May 9 in an early morning lobby outside the QMC by 20-30 campaigners including Keep Our NHS Public, UNISON Health NUH branch and officials, Nottingham Unite Health, Unite Community and a newly elected local councillor.
UNISON are starting a campaign to persuade Circle they will be better off in-house (frontline staff wages are better for starters!). UNISON are also initiating an on-line petition
More surprising support came at a meeting of the Integrated Care System Board that day, where the Chair agreed to circulate a campaign leaflet prior to a discussion on Best Value, and KONP have now been invited to a separate meeting with Board members.