Private health provider Circle named 32 trusts it viewed as constituting an “NHS growth opportunity” of more than £8bn in presentation to investors last year.

A page in the document headed “managing underperforming NHS hospital trusts” identifies the trusts which had a total annual revenue of £8.2bn as being part of its growth opportunity.

In addition to Cambridgeshire’s Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, which Circle now runs, trusts listed include Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, The Whittington Hospital Trust, Trafford Healthcare Trust and NHS Isle of Wight.

Renowned teaching hospitals like Barts and the London Trust, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust, and the Royal Free Hampstead Trust are also listed.

A note accompanying the list says: “Circle is well positioned to win new contracts.” It speaks of “attractive returns on capital invested”.

The document adds that Whiston hospital, part of St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust, was “publicly acknowledged to be [a] possible contract”.

The presentation is dated September 2011 and was presented at the Jefferies Global Healthcare Conference in New York.

Circle has made reference to the 32 trusts in previous investor documents, but not publicly listed its targets. The trusts in question are those identified by the Department of Health as being “underperforming” in 2010.

The list of trusts does not include Warwickshire’s George Eliot Hospital Trust, which is considering private franchise management, with Circle among the bidders.

The Department of Health is expected to make a decision on whether to approve a potential private franchise option for the West Midlands district general hospital later this year.

Since the document was produced several trusts on the list of 32 presented to potential investors have merged or become foundation trusts.

A spokeswoman for Circle said today: “It’s well known that there are a number of struggling NHS trusts across the country.  We’ve always argued that our offering of entrepreneurial drive, an operating model that transfers power to the staff closest to patients, and leading experts from our partnership to coach staff, would make us a good strategic partner for many of them. 

“Circle’s partnership model and entrepreneurial drive offers an alternative to cuts and closure for struggling NHS hospitals across the country. We should be allowed to do more.”

The presentation document also showed a soaring market share for one of Circle’s private hospitals, coinciding with a decline in market share for the local NHS provider.

A graph in the presentation shows the market share for hip, ankle and knee operations in the Bath area from March 2010 to June 2011.

When HSJ asked Circle about the figures attached it sent further information (attached right) confirming it.

Figures from the National Joint Registry showed that over that period Circle’s share rose from six to 30 per cent, while the Royal United Hospital Bath Trust’s share fell from 71 to 41 per cent.

Circle said it was “proud [to have] helped to reduce waiting times and increase choice for Bath patients”.

The document was produced before Circle took over the running of Hinchingbrooke in April this year.

Since then the hospital has been rated joint top of a patient satisfaction survey of trusts in the NHS Midlands and East strategic health authority cluster, but has been criticised by the Royal College of Nursing for planning cuts to nursing staff.