2 2 mins 9 yrs

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, once described as “a clinical and financial basket case”, recently implemented a few mild reforms: a private firm (“Circle”) took over and an employee-ownership deal allowed hospital staff became part-owners of that company, so all have a stake in making it work. So how’s it going?

In just six months, waiting times had been turned around – from the worst in the region to the best. Patient care had improved; satisfaction ratings were higher than ever. Money was no longer being wasted. Staff morale was up. Even the unpopular car parking fees had been scrapped.

Good, eh? I won’t pretend that this is proof that the NHS should be destroyed, its ruins sown with salt. Hinchingbrooke is still an NHS hospital, it’s funding is still NHS funding. What’s happened is that management and operational functions have been split off from NHS control, and the improvements in just a few months have been spectacular.

Well they should replicate it, repeat it, try it again, tweak it, tweak it again and allow various models to be tried to see what works, shouldn’t they? And if the insider, special NHS interests and unions squeal, they should get stuffed, shouldn’t they?

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