Private provider Circle could table a rescue bid for debt-stricken Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust involving partnering it with nearby Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, HSJ has been told.

Circle already runs Hinchingbrooke in nearby Cambridgeshire and the district general hospital’s interim chief executive Hisham Abdel-Rahman said the chance to run both trusts could offer “great opportunities for patients”.

The prospect of one private company operating two NHS acute trusts is unprecedented but the door has been opened after Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals announced late last year that it would begin a market engagement exercise after being declared financially unsustainable.

Dr Abdel-Rahman told HSJ that as well as “easy win” efficiencies, such as cutting the substantial agency staff costs of both trusts, there were also “opportunities around developing the network as a hub for certain sub specialties”.

He added: “There are immediate quick-wins from this partnership. We collectively cover a population approaching half a million people and this would allow economies of scale to become much larger.

“There would also be opportunities for research and developing a hub for other health services which is extremely attractive.”

Dr Abdel-Rahman said any further elaborations on his initial thoughts would be too speculative but that the company was building networks of hospitals and providers to better integrate care.

The company stressed no decision would be made on whether it would bid or the shape of any bid until tender details, expected in the coming months, were made public. 

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals was declared “financially unsustainable” by independent experts appointed by regulator Monitor in June 2013.

The trust’s financial woes are largely, although not entirely, due to the spiraling costs of a private finance initiative deal used to build a new state of the art of the hospital in Peterborough.

Peterborough and Stamford chief executive Peter Reading told HSJ in November thatthe trust expected to begin “engaging with the market” in spring 2014.

Meanwhile, Circle was also named as one of five contenders through to the next stage of the competition to take over George Eliot Hospital Trust.

The West Midlands district general hospital announced last month that private firms Circle Care UK and Ramsay Health had moved to the next phase of the competition, alongside South Warwickshire Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust.