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DoH 'disappointed' by Hinchingbrooke decision

The Department of Health said it is "disappointed" that Circle, the first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital, is to pull out of the deal.

We're disappointed Circle has made this decision.

There will now be a managed transfer of the running of the trust and patient care will not be affected.

– Department of Health spokesman

'From flagship to failure': Unions react to Hinchingbrooke

Unions have reacted to the announcement by operators of the country's first privately run NHS hospital that it is withdrawing its contract, calling the move a "stark warning of the dangers of NHS privatisation".

Circle - the first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital - is withdrawing from its contract Credit: PA

Hinchingbrooke has gone full circle, from flagship to complete failure.

This is the proof that the privatisation of the NHS is a disastrous experiment at the expense of our healthcare.

– Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union

The NHS is simply not shaped for competition.

This Government's obsession with selling off our National Health Service is a huge waste of taxpayers' money.

Setting up the model was an unnecessary expense which could have been used to recruit more staff and deal with the growing demand on services

– Unison general secretary Dave Prentis

This shows that when the going gets tough, the private sector just cut their losses and walk away, leaving the already strained public sector to pick up their mess.

It gives me no great pleasure in saying that we warned that this would happen from the start.

The Hinchingbrooke experiment should be held up as a stark warning of the dangers of NHS privatisation.

– Steve Sweeney, regional officer of the GMB union


'Combination of factors' behind contract withdrawal

Circle - the first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital - is withdrawing from its contract Credit: PA

The first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital said that a "combination of factors" is behind it withdrawing its contract.

Circle began operating Hinchingbrooke in February 2012, the first time the management of an NHS trust had been delegated to a private company.

Like most hospitals, over the past year Hinchingbrooke saw unprecedented A&E attendances and not enough care places for healthy patients awaiting discharge.

At the same time, our funding has been cut. We also believe that inconsistent and conflicting regulatory regimes compound the challenge for acute hospitals in this environment.

This combination of factors means we have now reluctantly concluded that, in its existing form, Circle's involvement in Hinchingbrooke is unsustainable.

– Chief executive Steve Melton

Firm behind first private NHS hospital pulls out of contract

The first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital is to pull out of the deal, claiming it is 'no longer sustainable' Credit: PA

The first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital is withdrawing from its contract.

In a blow to the private franchise model, Circle Holdings said that the franchise is "no longer sustainable" due to funding cuts and pressure on its casualty department.

It has put almost £5 million into Hinchingbrooke healthcare trust in Cambridgeshire - the £5 million investment mark being the point at which it has the right to terminate the franchise.

It pointed to "significant changes in the operational landscape for NHS hospitals" since the contract was first procured in 2009.

Coroner calls for improvement of stairlift safety

The family of a woman from Cambridgeshire who died after being thrown from a stairlift have called for improvements to thousands of devices to protect the public.

Ann Veal, 68, from Petersborough, died 11 months after being left paralysed from the chest down when she fell down a flight of stairs after her stairlift broke in April 2011.

Ann Veal, 68, died 11 months after being left paralysed from the chest down when she fell down the stairs because her stairlift broke. Credit: PA

After an inquest opened last week, coroner David Hemming said he would write a report calling for action to improve safety of the devices.

Mrs Veal's daughter, Sharon Veal-Gray, said: "We were devastated at my mum's death, she was always so caring and kind and did not deserve such pain and suffering."

"We never thought that a device fitted to help her around the home would cause such serious injuries and ultimately her death," she added.


Four police forces 'failing domestic abuse victims'

Just eight of 43 police forces responded well to domestic abuse and the most vulnerable victims faced a "lottery" in the way their complaints were handled, inspectors said.

The forces singled out by inspectors as being of particularly serious concern were:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Bedfordshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Gloucestershire

Lancashire Police was hailed as having the best response to domestic abuse.

Read more: Police 'failing' domestic violence victims

Among the forces found to be of serious concern, Bedfordshire had one officer working in its domestic violence unit, and in a case in Greater Manchester, the 13-year-old daughter of a victim was asked to act as a language interpreter for officers investigating allegations against her father.

Pheasant terrorising a community

A furious pheasant has been terrorising a local community by attacking vehicles and chasing cats and dogs at a farm.

The male bird arrived at Wood Farm in Hail Weston, Cambridgeshire three weeks ago and has been attacking the family and visitors.

A delivery driver was trapped for 20 minutes after the bird blocked his way, flew at the bonnet then chased his van.

Anne-Marie Hamilton told the BBC that the male bird is "a complete lunatic".

She said the bird had chased her Jack Russell and a driving lesson had to be abandoned after the pheasant blocked the car in.

Council reverses street sign apostrophe ban

A local authority has lifted its controversial ban on apostrophes in street signs following criticism from grammar campaigners.

A street sign on Scholars' Walk in Cambridge which has been corrected using marker pens by grammar campaigners Credit: PA

Cambridge City Council previously said it was removing punctuation from new road signs to prevent "confusing" emergency services.

However, today it said an "executive decision" had been taken to reverse the ban, adding: "For future new street names we will not be obliged to avoid proper punctuation."

Tim Bick, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: "We rue the day we allowed ourselves to be influenced by a bureaucratic guideline which nobody has been able to defend to us now that it has come under the spotlight."

A street sign in Cambridge reading "Scholars Way leading to Pepys Court and Fitzgerald Place" was among those to be altered in marker pen by grammar campaigners.

"This is a commonsense victory for good grammar," a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said. "The apostrophe was first introduced in the 16th century. Cambridge's attempted coup d'etat of the Queen's English has failed.

Man charged with murder over death of girl aged 2

A man has been charged with murder after the death of a two-year-old girl.

Dean Harris, 19, of Scott Drive, Yaxley, Cambridgeshire, will appear before Peterborough Magistrates' Court tomorrow morning.

The toddler, who has now been named as Amina Agboola, died yesterday after being taken to Peterborough City Hospital with serious injuries.

A 28-year-old woman, believed to be the girl's mother, was also arrested and has been released on police bail. Harris is understood to be the mother's partner. The couple were arrested after taking the girl to hospital themselves.

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