NHS hospitals urged to copy City takeovers

THE NHS should learn from the City takeover process and allow successful health providers to take full control of failing public hospitals, according to research released today by the think tank Reform.

Professor Paul Corrigan, the report’s author and a former health adviser to Tony Blair, told City A.M. that the current ad-hoc policy of merging failing NHS hospitals with each other is not an effective way of raising standards.

“One of the lessons from the City is that a considerable number of takeovers fail to add shareholder value, because there is insufficient change by the new management,” he said.

“We’re trying to learn from the City so a successful takeover needs to be tough, using expertise to bring about the amount of change required to turn a hospital around.”

Newly appointed health secretary Jeremy Hunt will have to deal with more than 20 NHS hospitals that are currently classed as both financial and clinical failures, while pushing through politically sensitive reforms and finding £20bn in savings.

Corrigan claims politicians are reluctant to actively encourage takeovers of hospitals but says medical professionals may soon refuse to work in substandard environments.

“The NHS promises every single service everywhere all the time. That is a promise that modern medicine cannot keep – your local village hospital cannot do brain surgery. We have not explained that to the public.”

“For the first time we’ve got doctors going out and telling the public they cannot provide the required cover. Doctors will say that hospitals are unsafe and [will not put their personal] reputations on the line, causing bits of the NHS to crumble.”

In response health minister Lord Howe said: “There isn’t a one-size fits all answer to this problem. Each NHS Trust will need a tailored solution and different levels of support. We are working closely on this basis with the Trusts we have identified as having problems to ensure they can provide high quality services for their patients in future.”

Labour did not provide a comment.