Circle is a mutual (theoretically part-owned by its employees) Circle had previously won a ten-year contract to manage Hitchingbrooke Hospital, but coincidentally gave up trying to run the hospital in 2014, just as the government was promoting Circle's business model to Foundation Trusts . Circle had also been caught selling off hospital land to cover its losses.
Under Circle's business model 50 percent of its
shares belong to its employees, but these shares are special - they are non-paying shares. That means these shares pay no dividend, give no control and can not be sold.
Despite Circle's PR and the government's propaganda, Circle's model of a
mutual, is not a real partnership. Circle is essentially a Jersey-based company owned by a hedge fund. Rather than putting staff in control, a survey showed that the relationship between staff and managers was extremely poor.
Nottingham University Hospital Trust was a national centre for excellence for dermatology services. In 2014 the local CCG awarded the dermatology services contract to Circle. The local dermatologists at the hospital - now under private employment - were concerned about job stability and opportunities for research and training. Six out of eight consultant dermatologists left, five citing their unwillingness to work for Circle. Nottingham University Hospital is now unable to offer emergency adult dermatology services.
Dr David Eedy of the British Association of Dermatologists said:
Nobody has thought through the implications for teaching, training and research - the whole future of British dermatology. Nottingham is just one example of the many fires we are fighting across the UK to try to keep out commissioning decisions, and the Government's lack of understanding of the implications of pushing NHS services into unsustainable models provided by commercially driven private providers or enterprises.
The above quote is damning enough, but it fails to recognise the whole direction in which the NHS is being taken. Public health care provision is being reduced to a basic package of services, and the necessity of this should be obvious in order to make way for private provision. Dr David Eedy is probably wrong about the government's understanding of
commercially driven private providers. Disrupting services and haemorrhaging staff are useful bi-products of piecemeal privatisation. Each private for-profit provider that enters our health system is like a pioneer doing their bit to drive out the public service ethos from the NHS (see Privatisation ).