Grave concern about future of Hinchingbrooke A&E

I WRITE with grave concern about Hinchingbrooke Hospital as I have learnt this week that Circle UK has tabled pre-tax losses of some �33million.

This compounds tabled pre-tax losses of �37.4ms for 2012 and �17.4m in 2009. As of December 31, 2010, the company already had debts of �82m. The City seems to have little faith in them, as the share price has fallen in value by some 60 per cent since floatation last year. Can we be confident in the decision of the Government and the Strategic Health Authority to place our respected hospital, with its own debt of �38.3m, in the care and stewardship of a company that was making such a hash of its own finances?

Are plans being drawn up to take Hinchingbrooke fully back into NHS hands should Circle crash financially?

We have seen health commissioners withdraw services for psychiatric care with the closure of Acer Ward, and I am hearing of senior consultants having their NHS contracts at Hinchingbrooke cancelled by the hospital, with yet further withdrawal of services. With the disappearance of key consultants and services on a drip-drip and silent basis, the future of accident and emergency services looks increasing bleak, as it will be easy for NHS Cambridgeshire to argue that the hospital can no longer provide the services and treatment required when you have a full casualty unit.

When the proposed closure of Acer Ward was put out for public consultation last November, although astoundingly it appears that the trust failed to consult with some parish councils, the decision to close Acer Ward had already been taken some nine months previously, making a total mockery of any public consultation. How much taxpayers’ money was wasted and how much energy was wasted on such a ludicrous process?

Will NHS Cambridgeshire please confirm that no plans are being drawn up for a public consultation on the down-grading of accident and emergency services to a 9 to 5 minor injuries unit? Will NHS Cambridgeshire also please confirm that even though they have invested millions into the expansion of the Rosie Maternity Unit at Addenbrooke’s, that they have no intention of closing our maternity services here at Hinchingbooke?

The authorities must have known about the state of Circle’s finances with such a detailed and lengthy process to prepare for the privatisation of the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Despite promises from Dr Stephen Dunn, no business plan explaining exactly how Circle Health UK was going to run Hinchingbrooke, pay off the small matter of the debt, and make a profit. How can the directors of Circle confidently commit to this over 10 years, unless they know that expensive areas of health care provision, such as A&E, and maternity services are going to be withdrawn by NHS Cambridgeshire over the coming months?

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Hinchingbrooke Hospital has stood our town and village communities very well during its existence, and we want good continued provision of full health care services within the heart of our community, especially as the community continues to increase in population at such an alarming rate.

Can we really be confident in the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital with this week’s news?


Sayer Street