Will Stone in the Morning Star reports:
One of five firms is set to carve a damaging scar onto the face of the NHS by becoming the first private operator of a general hospital - a prospect experts have labelled as "the last nail in the coffin" for the health service.
Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, lost its only NHS bidder earlier this week in the Cambridge University Hospitals Trust, whose withdrawal has opened the way for one of five private health providers to take control.
Once the contract is awarded by the East of England health authority, Hinchingbrooke will become the first NHS hospital of its kind in Britain to be operated by a private firm.
The hospital has been labelled as "debt-ridden" with a deficit of around £40 million, but Unison head of health Karen Jennings claimed the debt is "no worse than many other trusts" which are bogged down in private contracts.
She described plans to hand over the running of the hospital to a private company as a "dangerous experiment" which flew in the face of the government's insistence that the NHS is its preferred provider.