Private companies to take over hospitals

June 04, 2008 1:26 PM

"Poor managers are to be sacked without receiving large payouts and replaced by staff from profit-making companies who would be paid with public money.


The NHS will retain ownership of hospital buildings and services but the private firm will "take over" the day to day running of the hospital.


Ministers believe the proposals will drive up standards within the health service."

This is good news and provides genuine accountability for hospital managers delivering poor quality services.  Ironically, the problem with this new initiative was well summed up by Alan Johnson when he set out the scheme:

"[He] admitted that too often, poor performance had been dealt with only after a serious problem had emerged, as happened with Britain's biggest superbug scandal at Maidstone."

That's the issue.  It isn't good enough if the private sector can only come in once things have fallen to pieces so badly that it becomes a live scandal.  Thousands of patients will have been subjected to sub-standard treatment before the 'story' breaks.  The private sector will be asked to take over the most demoralised of hospitals and turn them around, which is a lot harder than building an effective organisation from the start.


Instead, private companies - and other organisations such as charities and co-operatives - should be offered a level playing field to compete with the current hospitals.  That pressure will either drive improvement in current hospitals or lead to them, slowly, being replaced.  Competition can improve standards before serious problems emerge.

"Poor managers are to be sacked without receiving large payouts and replaced by staff from profit-making companies who would be paid with public money.


The NHS will retain ownership of hospital buildings and services but the private firm will "take over" the day to day running of the hospital.


Ministers believe the proposals will drive up standards within the health service."

This is good news and provides genuine accountability for hospital managers delivering poor quality services.  Ironically, the problem with this new initiative was well summed up by Alan Johnson when he set out the scheme:

"[He] admitted that too often, poor performance had been dealt with only after a serious problem had emerged, as happened with Britain's biggest superbug scandal at Maidstone."

That's the issue.  It isn't good enough if the private sector can only come in once things have fallen to pieces so badly that it becomes a live scandal.  Thousands of patients will have been subjected to sub-standard treatment before the 'story' breaks.  The private sector will be asked to take over the most demoralised of hospitals and turn them around, which is a lot harder than building an effective organisation from the start.


Instead, private companies - and other organisations such as charities and co-operatives - should be offered a level playing field to compete with the current hospitals.  That pressure will either drive improvement in current hospitals or lead to them, slowly, being replaced.  Competition can improve standards before serious problems emerge.

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