The hospitals management was due to have been franchised in June to John Lewis-style partnership Circle, but the deal originally scheduled for ministerial signature in February or early March has still not been done. Much of the delay was caused by the Treasurys minute scrutiny of the terms of the deal, but The Hunts Post believes it has been back on Health ministers desks for several weeks. Time is running out to meet the strategic health authoritys re-scheduled assumption that Circle will take over at the turn of the year. Yesterday (Tuesday) the Department of Health could not say when an announcement would be made about the hospitals future, but Councillor Geoff Heathcock, who chaired a committee looking into the issue when the hospitals future was under threat nearly five years ago, with its debt reaching nearly £40m, is demanding answers. The Liberal Democrat councillor, who was chairman of Cambridgeshire County Councils adult wellbeing scrutiny committee, said: Both patients and staff want closure on a difficult past and to move forward in delivering a quality service to the people of Hunts. More delay in making that decision is very unhelpful all round. He said ministers seemed to have made life more difficult for themselves by writing down debt at Peterborough City Hospital when they have always insisted that Hinchingbrookes debt be repaid. They seem to be very reluctant to make a decision to let Circle get stuck in, which leads me to believe that theres more to this than meets the eye. It could be tied in with whats gone on with Peterborough City and writing down of some of the debt. Ministers are in a bit of a state about how to get out of this hole. The only way Circle or anyone else is going to make any progress is to cut the number of things that are being provided, because the money is not there in the countys health system. Its a typical bureaucratic shambles, and nobody wants to take responsibility. And its bizarre because its in [Health Secretary and South Cambridge MP Andrew] Lansleys back yard. They have misjudged whats involved in launching this experiment, Cllr Heathcock said. A DH spokesman said yesterday: The full business case for the proposal is currently with the Government for consideration. This is an important and significant business case in terms of the new model of contract and financial transaction involved. It therefore requires full and considered analysis. However, a decision is expected soon.