Don’t downgrade our hospital as area grows

I HAVE written to the strategic health authority to express my alarm and register my protest at the plans to either close or significantly downgrade Hinchingbrooke Hospital. I live in Huntingdon, am over 50 and have no car. My wife and I have spent a coup

I HAVE written to the strategic health authority to express my alarm and register my protest at the plans to either close or significantly downgrade Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

I live in Huntingdon, am over 50 and have no car. My wife and I have spent a couple of traumatic years attending her dying mother, who made many emergency visits to this hospital from her Godmanchester home before finally passing away in the care of absolutely first-rate nursing and palliative care staff.

Huntingdonshire's population is increasing above the national rate and, as far as I know, has one of the highest percentages of people over the age of 65. By the early 2020s, half the adults in the region will be over 50.

Road links between Huntingdon and Cambridge and Peterborough are terrible and getting worse. Closing or downgrading Hinchingbrooke makes no sense.

Many people will die in A14 traffic jams as ambulances strive to get critically ill people to Addenbrooke's A&E from Huntingdon - people whose lives would have been saved at Hinchingbrooke.

Perhaps the SHA should consider a road parallel to the A14 exclusively for ambulances.

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For those with long-term conditions, the outlook is indeed bleak if its plans become a reality. It does not make sense from an economic standpoint either.

A recent publication by the Eastern Region Public Health Observatory said: "With around six in 10 adults having some type of long-term condition, and with this number expected to grow as a result of the ageing of the population, ensuring accessibility of services to those with long-term conditions has the potential to provide major benefits and savings to the NHS."

The increase in road traffic that the SHA plans imply will lead to more casualties from road trauma, many of them fatal. This cannot be of benefit to the NHS. Indeed, reducing the impact of road trauma has been one of the great public health successes of the last 20 years, yet vehicle crashes and collisions still produce a great deal of avoidable death and disability.

People with a car will be able to travel the 20-30 miles for hospital care, but will then be faced with the impossibility of parking once they arrive. Parking is one of the major issues facing hospitals in the East of England.

It is ironic that the proposal to either close or downgrade Hinchingbrooke should be motivated by something styled as a "patient-led NHS". This is absolute nonsense - there is overwhelming public opposition in the Huntingdonshire area to the plans for Hinchingbrooke and these people are the patients.

The SHA says it wants to increase patient choice, but what people actually want is access to first-class local health care.

The choice it is offering the people of Huntingdonshire is whether to struggle in pain and discomfort by road to Cambridge or Peterborough. The choice, if you don't have a car, is between Whippet buses and Huntingdon & District.

SEAN HICKIN

St Peter's Road

Huntingdon

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