THREE private firms have been shortlisted for the next stage of the process to franchise the management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon. Circle Health, Ramsay Health Care UK and Serco Health, which is working with Peterborough and Stamford Hos

THREE private firms have been shortlisted for the next stage of the process to franchise the management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon.

Circle Health, Ramsay Health Care UK and Serco Health, which is working with

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have made it through to the next stage.

Care UK and Interhealth Canada (UK) Ltd are out of the running.

The NHS has said the three remaining companies will be invited to meet with the NHS East of England, hospital staff and others "to propose solutions to making the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital sustainable".

Under the current management the hospital has been working within its budget, but the NHS is obsessed with Hinchingbrooke's £40million debt, built up through obscure NHS accounting practices.

Dr Stephen Dunn, director of strategy at NHS East of England, said: "Potential partners have been sharing with us some really pioneering ideas about how they would make Hinchingbrooke sustainable, and secure its longer term future.

"An expert team has been evaluating how robust these ideas are, whether the bidders have sufficient vision, experience and a solid financial platform.

"Our expectations are high, and we have been very impressed with the quality.