Core of hospital services must stay

ON behalf of the Norfolk Road Residents Association, I am writing to protest at the threat of possible closure of all or part of Hinchingbrooke, our excellent local hospital. Although some degree of cutbacks may be deemed necessary, it is absolutely esse

ON behalf of the Norfolk Road Residents' Association, I am writing to protest at the threat of possible closure of all or part of Hinchingbrooke, our excellent local hospital.

Although some degree of cutbacks may be deemed necessary, it is absolutely essential that the accident and emergency department should be retained, especially in view of the considerable amount of taxpayers' money spent recently on new works and modernisation. Fortunately I have not had to use its services lately, but I have been told that it is quite up-to-date and has a relaxed atmosphere, for which it deserves top marks.

The maternity services must also come high on the list of priorities for retention, as units have been closed elsewhere and cases have been diverted to the Rosie Unit in Cambridge. This could become overloaded, leaving our mums out in the cold.

Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, although only approximately 17 miles distant as the crow flies, can be accessed only via the A14. This is one of the most notorious blackspots for hold-ups in the country. This could mean the difference between life and death for any unfortunate victim of a heart attack, stroke etc.

Just to have to attend any of these hospitals for diagnosis or routine treatment could be regarded as inconvenience, a damned nuisance as regards travel, whatever. Most folk, however, could manage this, though not without a great deal of difficulty, both physical and financial.

If Huntingdonshire alone is considered as the catchment area, the population is very close to 160,000 people, the vast majority of whom are absolutely dismayed and horrified by the closure proposals. There is also a great deal of expansion taking place, with new housing being built and new jobs created, not only in Huntingdon, but in all the surrounding areas.

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The proposed closure of Hinchingbrooke could be likened to the opening of Pandora's Box releasing all the ills of mankind, only Hope remaining.

GEORGE ROBBINS, Norfolk Road,Huntingdon

* THE hospital is situated in an area that is fast-growing with thousands of new houses planned for people to commute to Cambridge or London. To downgrade a hospital that is currently providing an excellent service in such a vital area seems injudicious in the extreme.

To withdraw access to crucial services for local people and expect them to make the journey along a dangerous and often congested road like the A14 (adding to the already gross overuse of the road) does not suggest concern for patient care. Neither does it indicate concern for the environment.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital is a small community hospital where volunteer workers abound and appeals and fund-raising are on-going. When one goes into the hospital, one has a sense of still being "at home" within in one's own community, where friends and family can visit regularly without the need for long, complicated and expensive journeys. These factors are essential in the process of recovery. Large, impersonal, distant hospitals have little to offer in this process.

Should any negative changes be made to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, it would be a long time before the people of Huntingdon and the surrounding areas would be able to look kindly on an authority that appeared to put money and politics before the welfare of the patients whose health and welfare it purports to further and protect.


* WHO took the Great out of Great Britain? We once had a country to be proud of, but no longer. I have watched this country go down a steady decline in the last 40 years.

When I moved into St Neots in 1982, Huntingdon had a small cottage hospital. When my husband severely damaged his hand, he was taken to Huntingdon but they were unable to help him, and so he had to be driven to Addenbrooke's. All this took several hours, and the traffic was negligible compared to what it is today.

The powers that be realised the need for Huntingdon to have a more comprehensive hospital, and how many lives have been saved as a consequence? Nobody will ever know. It has been extended and improved, all at a cost to the taxpayers. It is our hospital and extra money has been raised by local people for equipment such as the scanner.

Now it has been decided that, since we have more people living in the area and a lot more due to arrive in the not too distant future, and that the roads are so congested that Cambridge frequently becomes gridlocked, we no longer need our comprehensive hospital and can go back to how it was 25 years ago. They seem to forget why the hospital was built in the first place.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital has excelled in all departments. It is having to pay for hospitals less efficient than itself.

Perhaps the whole population of the country should move to Land's End and a massive hospital be built at John o' Groats. As nobody would get to the hospital, the NHS could save a fortune.

Mrs MARGARET COOKE, East Street, St Neots

* RECENTLY, through my sister in Buckden, Mrs Graham L Pope, I learned that the hospital is to be closed. I can't believe that such a good facility is to be closed down.

I had occasion two years ago to be admitted to the hospital and was impressed by the excellent service I received in the emergency room, after admission and before release the next day. The facility was under extensive remodelling at the time of my visit, so you can imagine my surprise when told of the plans to close the hospital down.

I would like to add my protest and vote to the many I know have already been expressed from closer to home. This hospital supplies needed care to many, who will now have to travel a greater distance for service, emergency and otherwise, which will cause hardship, especially to the elderly. I strongly urge the local authorities and others to protest this closing. The food was really good, too.

ALLISON McALLISTER, (a former Brit and yearly visitor to historic Huntingdon)

Wabash, Indiana USA

* WHEN my nine-year-old daughter broke her toe two weeks ago it would have taken at least 45 minutes to an hour to get to Addenbrooke's, and then she would have probably had to wait much longer than the two-and-a-half hours she did in Hinchingbrooke.

As it was, we had only had a 20 minute journey to get to Hinchingbrooke.

Mrs R C OFFORD, Eaton Socon, St Neots