East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust is seeking to work with an independent provider to “reinvigorate” its private patient services.

The trust is tendering for a partner who, it proposes, would help develop a private hospital at the site of its Arundel Unit, at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

The trust said the joint arrangement would “ultimately benefit NHS patients” by generating “significant returns from private patient services delivered at EKHUFT sites”.

The contract is worth between £30 and £45m and will last between 15 and 25 years.

In the advert East Kent states it is looking for a provider which can deliver a return of more than 15 per cent on any investment made by the trust.

The trust is also hoping the chosen private provider will “enhance the returns” from the Spencer Private Hospital, which is currently run by the trust at the site of its Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

A paper to the trust’s March board meeting indicates that the Spencer Private Hospital was reporting a “modest surplus” at the end of February. However, the trust’s overall income is £1.4m below its £5.4m target.

A spokeswoman for the trust said that the call for a private partner reflects “the trust’s intention to maximise income through private patients so as to increase investments in NHS services. The partner would work jointly with the trust across all sites”.

The chosen provider will be expected to be an “umbrella organisation” for the private operations across the trust’s site. It is hoping a partner can generate returns “significantly above the return that could be obtained from alternative uses for the Arundel Unit”.

The spokeswoman added: “The trust currently owns a subsidiary, the Spencer Private Hospital, which operates principally in Margate and generates profits which are invested in NHS services. The proposal is aimed at increasing the level of private patient income received enabling us to invest more into NHS services.”

The trust expects to award the contract in either June or July.