I woke as usual this morning to Evan Davis on Radio 4 who was running the story regarding the Hinchingbrooke Hospital contract with Circle which is 6 months into a 10 year term. Circle is aiming for over £300 million of savings which is almost unbelievable when you consider that the hospital trust had run up debts of nearly £40 million, had been described as a basket case and effectively was in a worse financial position than the South London Healthcare Trust which was put into administration by the Government.
Well the National Audit Office in its wisdom is now concerned that Circle over egged its abilities because it now finds that, due to problems that were not really made clear, it has run up a further £2 million of debt. Despite the fact that Circle has to meet the cost of this overspend, the Audit Office and a parliamentary committee chaired by Margaret Hodge are now worried about finances!
Evan Davis ran an interview with the Chief Executive of Circle, Ali Parsa, who made the pertinent point that when the contract was first offered to Circle all concerns were about its healthcare abilities and the threat to quality of service, but on all of those measures they have achieved substantial progress and in fact, on a basis of last month’s figures, they are close to breaking even.
So the massive irony here is that the government despite all its efforts could not turn the problems at Hinchingbrooke around and yet, within 6 months Circle seems to have made substantial progress in the right direction. To criticise Circle at such an early stage is surely ridiculous.
Ali Parsa described it beautifully with the analogy of deciding that because Mo Farah was not in front after 1000 metres of his 10,000 metre gold medal win, he couldn’t possibly succeed. Well we all know what happened there! Fingers crossed Circle can continue to make progress because there are a lot more hospital trusts that could require a major turnaround on the same basis before too long.