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Government urged to ‘incentivise’ private takeover of hospitals


28 September 2012

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Up to 30 NHS hospitals should be taken over by the private sector or “elite” NHS leaders by 2015, claimed a former government health adviser.

Professor Paul Corrigan argued the current policy of merging failing hospitals “will not work” as by “forcing” underperforming hospitals to merge with other underperforming hospitals, only larger underperforming hospitals are created.

Up to 30 NHS hospitals should be taken over by the private sector or “elite” NHS leaders by 2015, claimed a former government health adviser.

Professor Paul Corrigan argued the current policy of merging failing hospitals “will not work” as by “forcing” underperforming hospitals to merge with other underperforming hospitals, only larger underperforming hospitals are created.


“It is possible to develop a better hospital from the core of a failing one, but this will only be achieved by a profound and systemic change to the structure of the hospital,” said Prof Corrigan in Takeover published by independent think tank Reform.

“And the surest way of achieving this, learning from recent NHS history, is not a merger of equals, but the process whereby a very successful hospital takes over a failing one.”


The think tank claims chains of hospitals run by the best NHS Foundation Trusts and private companies would develop centres of “clinical excellence with strong brands”, cutting costs and achieving economies of scale while also improving the quality of care delivered to patients.

“Sooner or later, the Government is going to have to acknowledge both the clinical and economic case for radical change amongst NHS hospitals,” said Prof Corrigan.

“The sooner it does so, the easier for local change to be pursued with a prospect of success.” 


The government is being urged to “incentivise” organisations to take over failing NHS hospitals, something it is claimed will be made easier under the new health reforms.

The think tank has also called upon the government to admit there are a “significant number” of failing hospitals, spend more time criticising them for not providing much better services, stop the policy of merging failing hospitals with other failing hospitals and encourage “radical change”.

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