"Secret Plan" to privatise Ravenscourt Park

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Ravenscourt Park Hospital is the subject of speculation that the facility may be transferred into private hands.

Previous reports had suggested that the hospital may have to close because of rising debts and a lack of patients but now, according to the Evening Standard, the option of privatisation is being considered. It is claimed that the transfer would form the blue-print for similar privatisations across the country, allowing ministers to meet a pledge that a choice of at least one private hospital for treatment would be available to all.

Ravenscourt Park was bought from the private sector in 2002 for £14 million. It operates as a specialist centre for hip and knee operations in West London but other hospitals reportedly find the cost of sending patients there too high and therefore the hospital's deficit has reached £12 million. The centre is unable to perform treatments for other trusts at competitive rates and five out of seven local trusts refuse to use it. It is estimated that the hospital must double its current 6,000 operations a year to remain viable. Accumulated losses are projected to reach £37 million by 2010 if the unit continues to operate on the same basis.

The hospital was planned to be part of the solution to NHS waiting lists. Such centres were originally seen by the Government as a cost-effective way to give patients more choice. Ministers hailed Ravenscourt Park and the 28 other similar centres as part of the future of the NHS.

Ravenscourt Park Hospital is part of the Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust. The trust did not respond to our request for a comment on this item.

May 28, 2005