The special administrator for the first hospital to be subjected to the failure regime has invited expressions of interest from the NHS and private sector to take over all or part of the organisation.
Matthew Kershaw, who was appointed special administrator of South London Healthcare Trust last month, announced the move today.
The invitation for expressions of interest will be extended to all providers of NHS-funded care, including NHS trusts and the private sector.
Completed expressions of interest must be submitted by mid-September.
Mr Kershaw said the move was an attempt to gauge what interest there was in running part or all of the trust’s services, and he had no pre-conceived ideas of what a solution might be.
HSJ understands King’s Health Partners, the alliance of Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital, and South London and Maudsley, have been in talks with the trust.
Reports earlier this year also named Oxleas Foundation Trust as a potential bidder for South London Healthcare’s Sidcup site.
The three-site hospital trust finished 2011-12 with a deficit of more than £65m on a turnover of £459m.
Last September emails released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed the German provider Helios had met with the Department of Health to discuss taking over failing hospitals, in a move brokered by consultants McKinsey.
Mr Kershaw, former head of the Department of Health’s foundation trust pipeline, said although Helios does not currently provide NHS services, a proposal from them or a similar organisation would be looked at.
Today’s news comes as a tender document revealed the consultants working with the special administrator in South London were being paid £2m.
McKinsey, Deloitte and PA Consulting were appointed to do the work at South London Healthcare Trust earlier this year, and a procurement notice posted online subsequently revealed the value of the contract.
One senior figure told HSJ the size of the sum indicated the administrator had not made up his mind about a solution, because hiring consultants to model an existing plan for the trust would have been a lot cheaper.
The tender document reveals that the DH anticipates other trusts being placed in the “Unsustainable Provider Regime” during the life of the contract, which expires in April 2013.
The DH’s invitation to tender document said: “Although the trust that will first be involved in the UPR will be in London, it is expected that other trusts across the country may also be placed in the regime within the timeframe set out in respect of national policy objectives on foundation trusts”.
HSJ revealed last month that Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust had been told in May that it too was being considered for UPR.
Mr Kershaw will present his interim findings on South London Healthcare Trust to the secretary of state in October, before working on another report recommending the next steps.