THE private firm in charge of Hinchingbrooke Hospital has announced a £4.1million loss in the first half of the financial year.

Circle, who took over Hinchingbrooke in February, says that it expected the hospital to lose £10m in its first year, but had an ambitious plan to save the money in a year.

But a spokesman has announced that correcting “big quality issues”, including the “dysfunctional” colorectal department, has meant that the company is £4m short.

She said: “Hinchingbrooke was projected to lose £10m this year, and Circle set out with an ambitious plan to save this sum in a single year. However, we came across big quality issues in our first six months, including a bowel surgery department, a historic failure to recruit permanent consultants, and problems meeting national targets, so took a deliberate decision to invest upfront to fix these issues before turning to the finances.

“Great strides have been made, with the hospital now consistently ranking in the top 5 out of 46 in its region for performance, at the same time as reducing the projected deficit by £6m to £4m.

“We’re confident that we’re now on track to reach a sustainable break-even position by the end of the next financial year.

“Circle’s approach is always to invest upfront to fix structural problems, because short-term slash and burn turnaround is not in our DNA.

“We have a 10-year brief to transform Hinchingbrooke into a high-performing, financially sustainable local hospital, so for us, there are no prizes in unsustainable early wins.”

The spokesman added that as part of the contract to takeover the hospital, Circle must fund shortfalls at the end of each financial year.