Another company has pulled out of the bid to privatise surgery at Kingston Hospital, blaming “market conditions”.

When chief executive Kate Grimes looks down the shortlist at the end of April to decide who will win the 10-year contract for elective surgery, she will now have a choice of one.

She denied the project, which had cost £300,000 in management and legal fees as of July last year, was now effectively over.

“We have some clear criteria which will allow us to decide if the bidder can get over the barrier,” she said.

“I can tell you I won’t be judged purely on money. I will be looking to see if we can deliver a significantly better quality service for patients. If we can’t we won’t be doing it.”

If selected, the private company will take control of the hospital’s new surgical centre, the day unit and the eye unit.

It will also be put in charge of the hospital’s small private ward, Coombe Wing, and could build its own private hospital on site.

Profits will be shared with the private company, but that the exact rate had not yet been finalised.

But Geoff Martin, of London Health Emergency, said: “If one of the main bidders has pulled out because of market conditions that should set off alarm bells in Kingston Hospital.

“If you have a builder in, you don’t just go ahead on the basis of one bid.

“If they do proceed there will be one almighty row. I will make sure this is pursued in parliament and chase them to the end of the country.

Sandra Berry, chairman of patient watchdog K-Link, said: “They are only going to appoint one and if it is the right one, great. It would be a shame if they cancelled it.

“This was going to make life easier for patients with elective surgery in operations like hip replacements. When there is an emergency these people tend to get shoved off the list.”