HINCHINGBROOKE Hospital’s new chief executive will be a ‘stayer’ and probably someone who wants to make his or her name from Hinchingbrooke’s success.

The Department of Health’s experiment with franchising hospital management should take another step forward at the end of February when the contract with preferred bidder Circle Health is signed.

In the meantime, the John Lewis-style partnership, which will take on management of the £100million-a-year facility in June, has set about ensuring all the hospital’s staff are enthused by their new way of working, at the same time as seeking a new leader for the NHS hospital.

Managing partner Ali Parsa – the partnership’s equivalent of a chief executive – told The Hunts Post he was not rushing to fill the CEO post at Hinchingbrooke until he found the right candidate.

“We have people here already who are perfectly capable of leading it in the meantime, not least because it will largely lead itself from the bottom up – from small clinical units in charge of their own service and empowered to fix any problems they find.

“The new chief executive must meet two criteria on which we will not compromise.

“First, he or she needs to believe in the bottom-up philosophy – and that could be difficult for many people with a healthcare background, even though there’s nothing new in it. After all, lawyers run law firms, for example.

“Secondly, we don’t want someone who’s just going to do it for two or three years and then move on. The best businesses are where managers have been there for 20 years. Look at Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsène Wenger. Their Premier League success is no coincidence.

“I want someone committed to Hinchingbrooke for certainly five years, preferably at least 10, and who will make a personal success of the place. That’s why we’re not going to be rushed.”

Mr Parsa said the sooner the planned culture changes were implemented the better for the hospital’s performance. While Circle would not interfere with the present “extremely competent” management, his company would be delighted to help before the official handover on June 1 – if asked.

In the meantime, not a single dissenting voice had been raised against Circle’s philosophy that small teams in each unit – doctors and nurses in clinical units, for example – should take charge of improving patients’ care and experience.

“The support for that at Hinchingbrooke is overwhelming,” Mr Parsa said. Every time we’ve done that elsewhere, the result has been astonishing. People do far more than you expect.”

Following consultations with patients’ representatives, he was also hopeful of greater community involvement at Hinchingbrooke, both practically – such as a gardening club helping to tend the quite extensive hospital gardens – and at board level.

Circle’s franchise will run for 10 years. It will be required not only to run the hospital but will also generate sufficient surplus to repay Hinchingbrooke’s controversial £39m historic debt.