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The News Line: News Circle to take £2m profit! –as it cuts and slashes Hinchingbrooke Hospital Public sector union Unison yesterday said that some of its worst fears are coming true over NHS privatisation.

This came after it was revealed that Circle, the private company that has taken over the running of Hinchingbrooke hospital, Cambridgeshire, will cream off £2m (44 per cent) of the hospital’s surpluses while cutting jobs and services to the bone.

This is after Circle had pledged to clear the trust’s £40m deficit before taking a profit, and will hit patients and staff hard, warned Unison.

Christina McAnea, Unison head of health, said: ‘Circle and the government promised that a profit would not be made until Hinchingbrooke’s debts had been paid off.

‘It clearly had no intention of keeping this promise, having laid down plans to cream off nearly 50 per cent of the hospital’s surpluses – making it virtually impossible to balance the books.

‘This is a disgrace. Any surpluses should be going directly into improving patient care or paying off the hospital’s debt, securing its future for local people, not ploughed into making company profits.
‘Instead, patients and staff are facing drastic cuts.

‘The hospital was already struggling, but the creep in of the profit motive means cuts will now be even deeper. And it is patients and staff that will pay the price.

‘Whilst this hospital was the first to be transferred into private hands, it may not be the last.

‘George Eliot Hospital Trust in Warwickshire is considering a similar franchise, and the measures in the Tory government’s Health and Social Care Act pave the way for others to follow suit.’

Royal College of Nursing chief executive & general secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said: ‘Circle’s running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital has significant implications for the provision of health services across the UK.

‘We know the NHS is under huge financial pressure to save £20 billion by 2015 and that Hinchingbrooke Hospital is carrying about £40m of debt.

‘These financial gaps must not be plugged by cutting local services such as Accident and Emergency in the future.

‘This is also effectively a test case for the NHS and similar agreements should not be entered into until we see the results of what happens at Hinchingbrooke.’

GMB national officer for the NHS, Rehan Azam, told News Line: ‘This is the danger of allowing private providers into the NHS.

‘They are always going to put profit before people.

‘The GMB wants the NHS run by the public sector.’

King’s College Hospital, southwest London, trade union side chair, Unite member Frank Woods added: ‘It is no surprise that this company’s first priority is to make a profit and to work on a short-term basis to do that.

‘Companies like this come in, make a profit and then leave to be replaced by the next lowest bidder in a race to the bottom.

‘The patients and staff are the ones that suffer.

‘We need to keep the NHS public and resist all private takeovers.’

Anna Athow, BMA council member, told News Line: ‘This is plainly profits being put before patients. It is the privatisation of the NHS in practice.

‘Now all trade unions must unite to take strike action to defend the NHS by bringing down the coalition and bringing in a workers government.

‘The NHS must not be privatised.’
 
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