Hinchingbrooke Hospital: Just what is going on?

SHOW us what is being planned for our hospital – that s the message The Hunts Post is sending to the NHS as plans to have Hinchingbrooke managed by the private sector gather pace. Key political figures in Huntingdonshire are also in calling for greater

SHOW us what is being planned for our hospital - that's the message The Hunts Post is sending to the NHS as plans to have Hinchingbrooke managed by the private sector gather pace.

Key political figures in Huntingdonshire are also in calling for greater openness and transparency concerning the franchise plans for Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

NHS East of England has narrowed down to three the private companies bidding for the franchise and will make a decision in September about which one is going to run the hospital.

Circle Health, Ramsay Health Centre UK and Serco Health have been shortlisted and, according to the NHS, have put forward "pioneering ideas".

But nothing is known about what the companies are proposing.

The NHS has said it is in no position to give details about what changes the firms would put in place if they were successful.

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Hunts Post Editor Andy Veale said that's not good enough.

"We want to be able to tell the people of Huntingdonshire what is being planned for their hospital, what these so-called pioneering ideas are and we want people to have the right to choose whether they want to be used as guinea pigs by the NHS.

"The NHS needs to stop hiding behind the tender process and give us some detail."

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly called for more openness during what he has described as "testing times" for the hospital.

Mr Djanogly said that confidence in the hospital was crucial and he did not want to see it undermined by concerns over the franchise process.

"It is important that we understand that, like any organisation, confidence is vital not just for patients, but also for the loyal and hardworking staff.

"I have told NHS bosses that at the next stage of bidding there should be maximum transparency of the contents of bids to local people, so that they get the opportunity to be engaged with the choices involved in the running of their local hospital."

Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Councillor Ian Bates is also concerned: "It is crucially important that we know now what is on the table, not after the decision has been made."

He added: "The process should be open and transparent. Maybe one or two things like money should be kept close to the strategic health authority's chest but the rest of the details should be readily available for the public to view and understand.

"It is crucial that we know what is happening and what we are getting."

Andrew MacPherson, director of strategic projects for NHS East of England, said the strict rules of tender mean the public will have to wait.

The second stage of the tender process will see the shortlisted companies go into more detail about plans and a stakeholder panel, which includes members of the public, will analyse whether the plans meet with patients' interests before a public meeting on July 7.

The companies will then submit formal bids for NHS East of England to make its final decision in September.

An NHS spokesman added: "We are in a pre-election period, which means we have to be careful about what we say. Also we are limited on what we can say because of commercial sensitivity."

When asked if the public would see details of all three bids or just the winning one, he added: "All companies have to agree to provide exactly the same public service but if that changes the public will be made aware and there will be a public consultation.

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