A primary care trust has said it is the first in the country to appoint a private company to run a community hospital.

NHS Mid Essex opened Braintree Community Hospital on Monday. Services including minor surgery, physiotherapy and a rapid assessment unit are run by Braintree Clinical Services, owned by management development business Arkanum. The company appointed Interhealth Canada as provider of elective surgery and outpatient care, replacing Ramsay Health Care.

The PCT said the contract will run until 2015 with options to extend to 2017.

Other contractors appointed include Prime Diagnostics for endoscopy, Specialist Medical Imaging for X-rays and ultrasound and NHS body Central Essex Community Services for inpatient beds, rehabilitation and speech and occupational therapy. NHS Mid Essex director of commercial services Clare Morris said: “This contract represents excellent value for the NHS.”