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28.09.12

Government must face up to failing hospitals – Reform

Merging failing NHS hospitals will only create a larger underperforming hospital, the former health advisor to Tony Blair has argued.

In a new report published by Reform, Professor Paul Corrigan proposes that up to 30 hospitals should be taken over by the private sector, or best performing hospitals.

He states that takeovers only work when the acquiring organisation changes the business model and working practices of the staff, so Government must work to make restructuring services easier.

Prof Corrigan also calls for Government to admit that there are a number of failing hospitals, stop merging failing NHS hospitals and incentivise organisations to take these over.

Private sector takeovers could cut costs, improve the quality of care delivered to the patients, spread best practice and achieve economies of scale, he adds.

The report authors argue: “It is possible to develop a better hospital from the core of a failing one, but this will only be achieved by a profound and systemic change to the structure of the hospital. And the surest way of achieving this, learning from recent NHS history, is not a merger of equals, but the process whereby a very successful hospital takes over a failing one.”

Prof Corrigan said: “Sooner or later, the Government is going to have to acknowledge both the clinical and economic case for radical change amongst NHS hospitals. The sooner it does so, the easier for local change to be pursued with a prospect of success.

“Unless there is a threat of closure, the leadership of the organisation does not face up to the change. If every failing hospital believes that its local elected politicians will stop its closure, then they will avoid going through the hard business of change.”

The report is at: http://reform.co.uk/resources/0000/0482/Takeover.pdf

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