Hinchingbrooke: Hang on to chance of survival

SUNDAY October 19, 1997, saw the serious multiple stabbing of my daughter Cheryl in a pre-meditated murder attempt by her estranged husband in the presence of their three youngest children. Sue and Sandy, the paramedics, kept her alive until the trauma t

SUNDAY October 19, 1997, saw the serious multiple stabbing of my daughter Cheryl in a pre-meditated murder attempt by her estranged husband in the presence of their three youngest children.

Sue and Sandy, the paramedics, kept her alive until the trauma team at Hinchingbrooke Hospital continued the fantastic work that means I still have a daughter and the children a mother.

Many people strove to make that the case during the six days I was told to expect the worst, the 11 days she was on life support, the 13 days in intensive care getting clinical care second to none - the support and consideration as a parent in a situation you never expect or prepare for.

The hospital deserves better than destiny by balance sheet for what is, in budgetary terms, a paltry amount. Central Government loses that sort of money on an enquiry to justify a controversial issue without blinking an eye. Project overruns would be welcome if they exceeded projections only by such a sum.

A whole community, major communication links all come within the catchment area of this valuable facility and we tragically have seen changes in our society as well as major disaster scenarios where casualties are spread over accident and emergency units across wide areas.

Scrap this flexible response and you are denying many casualties and emergencies the chance of survival or a complete recovery because of the increased distances to reach the care they need.

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Air ambulances in England and Wales are, in the main, not centrally funded, relying on public support for their existence. The increased use would stretch the network, with each unit being tied up for longer with increased travel to transfer patients to a hospital.

Political history is littered with folly where we have consolidated for bigger units and destroyed industries and infrastructure which are lost for ever. Politics does not have trial periods, only agendas. Hinchingbrooke is too valuable to lose wholly or partly.

RODNEY HOOKER, The Close, Godmanchester

* I AM writing to express my anger at the proposed cuts and possible closure of Hinchingbrooke Hospital. My father died in that hospital and very much needed an MRI scan which, at that time, was not available at Hinchingbrooke.

When he died, I donated his collection of 126 teapots to a charity auction in aid of providing an MRI scanner. I believe it was bought or helped by donations from the public, who very much care what happens to their hospital.

I now understand that this scanner may no longer be at Hinchingbrooke. Why is this? What is happening in our society today?

We need this hospital, together with its up-to-date equipment. Have you ever tried to get to Cambridge or Peterborough at normal times, let alone in an emergency?

I hope everyone who cares will write to the strategic health authority and maybe something will be done to keep our hospital.

JUDY HODGE, Queens Road, Somersham

Editor's note: The rumour that the MRI scanner has been moved or sold has been doing the rounds for several weeks. It is not true. The scanner is in daily use and there are no plans to outsource magnetic resonance work. The hospital says it is "acutely conscious" of who paid for the equipment.

* I HAVE a dear wife who has been, and is being, treated for breast and now bone cancer at the Woodside Clinic at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

I am fully behind all the calls for the retention of the hospital and would just like to make three comments regarding the campaign to save it:

Resist any attempts to divide and rule if the suggestion is to close a few specialised areas on spurious arguments suggesting better overall treatment, while ignoring the effects of the stress and inconvenience associated with multiple extended journeys for patients, the curtailment of family and friends' support, and the problems of relocation for the specialist staff.

Critically examine the arguments put forward for either full or partial closure. Past experience would indicate there are sure to be glaring errors and unacknowledged implications that can be highlighted and exploited.

Make sure any local acceptance of an overall plan involving other hospitals is conditional on all other parties involved accepting the plan in its entirety. If any changes whatsoever are proposed, the local agreement should be null and void.

Finally, while the hospital may be located in a 'safe' Conservative Parliamentary constituency, I trust we will see all local politically active individuals, of what ever political party, visibly supporting the campaign.

BRIAN NICHOLSON, Washbank Road, Eynesbury

* I WAS more than a little dismayed to hear that Hinchingbrooke Hospital services are under threat.

Five years ago I suffered a heart attack while staying with my daughter and family in St Neots. I was immediately taken to Hinchingbrooke A&E and then into the coronary care unit. On the basis that the first hour's response is crucial, I have no doubt that having fast access to a first rate local hospital made all the difference to my surviving the attack.

Although I don't live in the area I have major concerns that the family that I have there, including two young grandsons, may not have access to the level of care that I received.

MIKE POOLE, Liverpool

* THREATENED closure at Hinchingbrooke Hospital is the latest crisis to face the NHS. The cuts are a result of debts accumulated by New Labour and Tory commitment to privatisation and the market.

Dismantling public services costs lives, leaving many areas under-resourced.

But multi-nationals, Government and big businesses see public services as industries from which profit can be sucked.

The destruction of mental health provision in Cambridge and the ending of funding for Arthur Rank House and other care facilities will take their toll and put further pressure on other provisions. Cuts are predicted in 12 of the region's NHS Direct sites and the local blood transfusion service.

NHS logistics in Bury St Edmunds faces closure when taken over by the German corporation DHL in January. NHS debt has soared to over £800 million this year and PCTs are pressured to privatise and cut further.

Crippling loan repayments from PFI (Private Finance Initiatives) and sub-contracting of services are resulting in wholesale job losses, casualisation of staff and the limiting of services. Yet all three major parties support the breaking up and selling of off the


Gordon Brown can commit £76,000 million to replace the Trident nuclear submarines and £7,000 million to the war in Iraq, yet he and the majority of MPs are against directly-funded public services.

It is no coincidence that the same conglomerates and shareholders benefiting from the liberalisation of public services are driving the wars to gain control of Middle Eastern markets for the same reason. The taxpayer is paying for both and both projects make us and other nationals less safe.

TOM WOODCOCK, Cambridgeshire Respect, Fen Road, Cambridge

* I FIND it deplorable that Hinchingbrooke Hospital may be closed.

A couple of years ago I was taken there by ambulance and put in Maple Ward. I have private insurance, but elected to stay in the ward where I was getting good treatment. I was looked after very well and the food was excellent.

Before I returned home everything I needed had been brought to the house. This hospital was an example of what a hospital should be. I think it is a great mistake of this Government to close it down.


* OF COURSE I want our hospital at Hinchingbrooke to stay with us for ever, but let's have a management team that can manage - not like the last team who gave us lost jobs and huge debts.

IVAN WESTLEY, Leger Close, St Ives