Privately-run Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust has fallen again in the monthly league table of hospital patient satisfaction being piloted across the Midlands and East of England.

Nineteen out of 46 hospitals trusts across the region scored higher than Hinchingbrooke in the August results for NHS Midlands and East’s “friends and family test”.

The test, which scores trusts on the basis of how likely their patients would be to recommend them to friends or family, is being piloted by the strategic health authority cluster ahead of a planned national rollout next year.

Hinchingbrooke received widespread publicity when it scored joint-highest in the region’s first published set of results – for May 2012 – just two months after private firm Circle began its management franchise of the trust. Circle chief executive Ali Parsa said in a press release that becoming “the top recommended hospital shows that staff at Hinchingbrooke have been liberated to deliver the best services for the patients they know best”.

However, the trust’s place in the rankings has been falling month-on-month since then. Eight trusts scored higher than Hinchingbrooke in June, 10 in July, and 19 in August. In August, Hinchingbrooke achieved a “net promoter score” of 69 – the average score for the region.

The highest-scoring provider in August was Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital Foundation Trust, which shared Hinchingbrooke’s joint-top ranking in May, and has come first or second in every month since then. The highest scoring non-specialist trust was the Princess Alexandra Hospital, which has also ranked in the top five in every month since the test was launched.

HSJ attempted to contact spokespeople for Circle, but they were initially unavailable for comment.

However, in response, Hinchingbrooke itself said that while it had been in the top 10 trusts across the region for the first four months of the scheme, “disappointingly, last month our inpatient score dipped”. The main reason for this was the opening of a short stay unit, during whose introduction “a number of… inpatients received a less than optimum experience”.

Its statement continued: “We expect our scores to improve again in October and look forward to returning to the top 10 very shortly on this measure.  With the level of change underway at Hinchingbrooke we will of course have bumps in the road and I am sure there will be more as we work to consistently deliver excellence in all that we do for our patients.”

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