The Department of Health says it will consider repeating the 'renationalisation' that saw the NHS buy the private Heart Hospital in London, now under the control of University College London Hospitals trust.

Though there is no indication of which trust could scoop up a failing local private hospital, the DoH is not ruling out more buyouts.

UCLH chief executive Robert Naylor initiated the£27.5m deal to transfer the 95-bed hospital and its 162 staff to the NHS. He told HSJ:

'We can't find a downside at all.We can create a world-class cardiac unit overnight.'

But he warned that 'one of the constraints' in seeking to buy the hospital in the face of rival bids was being unable to borrow money in the private sector and competing with people who can.

He added: 'If it hadn't been so politically attractive, I do not think we would have got the money.'

Mr Naylor visited the chair and chief executive of parent company Gleneagles Hospitals UK shortly after arriving at the trust at the beginning of the year. 'They were quite keen to build a link at that time as they clearly had major financial problems, ' he said.

In February, he was contacted by the firm, whose Singapore-based parent company Parkway was desperate to offload the hospital.

After the firm refused a lease deal, the trust approached 'a third party, a major player in the property market'.

Mr Naylor finally approached NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp after the property company demanded a 20 per cent interest rate. UCLH will now pay just 6 per cent in capital charges to NHS capital funding.

Mr Naylor denied claims that the trust had made a 'commitment to maintain a particular level of private activity' at the hospital, which treats 600 private patients a year.

The trust plans to move NHS cardiac patients from the Middlesex hospital, which treats 750 a year, to the new site on a phased basis from 1 September, taking total numbers to 1,350.