Labour Accused of ‘Stitching Up’ Privately-Run Hospital

Andy Parrett /

The NHS hospital that was being managed by a private firm may have been given a negative care report by left wing campaigners opposed to any non-state involvement in the health service.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire was a British health success story, winning an award for patient care. Yet only months later, the Care Quality Commission which regulates the healthcare industry in the UK, rated it ‘inadequate’ which lead Circle, the firm running Hinchingbrooke, to withdraw its contract, the Daily Mail reports.

The hospital is now under special measures and may well be closed down.

The news delighted hard-left NHS campaigners who resent any element of competition or private involvement in the NHS, even though it was the current Shadow Health Secretary, Labour’s Andy Burnham, who first put the contract out to tender.

Now MPs are petitioning the Health Secretary for an inquiry into the report, saying it is entirely at odds with the standards of care being provided only months earlier.

It may be no coincidence that the hospital which could have been championed as a a trail blazer for private management in hospitals received such a damaging report.

Investigations have shown that individuals involved in writing the document have close ties to the Labour Party and unions that oppose NHS privatisation.

The lead inspector of the watchdog, Dr Jonathan Fielden, was previously a senior member of the British Medical Association, the trade union for doctors, and has spoken out against privatisation.

But he is not the only inspector with hardened political views to be involved: a second, Dr Nigel Sturrock, is associated with a campaign group called ‘Keep Our NHS Public’.

But perhaps most concerning is a doctor who was employed by the hospital is also the Labour candidate for the constituency the hospital is in. Dr Nik Johnson is believed to have briefed the CQC about supposed failings in the children’s services in the hospital’s Accident and Emergency department.

Local MP Steve Barclay said it was “important that patients receive reassurance that the review conducted by the CQC has been conducted in a professional manner.”

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “We stand fully behind our assessment that safety, caring and leadership at Hinchingbrooke Hospital were inadequate. There is no reason to question the integrity of any member of the inspection team.

“Our findings highlight the significant failings at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. They are not a judgement on the role of the private sector in the NHS or on franchise arrangements. Our priority is the care that patients receive. Where hospitals are failing to promote good care, we will say so regardless of who owns and runs them.”

However the CQC has not bathed itself in glory with previous investigations, where it missed major cases of abuse and neglect including the treatment residents at the Winterbourne View Care Home were subjected to by staff.