Hinchingbrooke - we’re still none the wiser

I WAS the only member of the public at the meeting on January 6 to hear a presentation by a representative of Circle Healthcare (Mr Ali Parsa), who are the preferred provider to run the hospital. It would have been better attended, perhaps, if the time (5.30 pm) had been more convenient for people.

Once again, under the umbrella of “confidential commercial information”, no facts were given to substantiate or clarify statements made. This makes a mockery of the consultation process.

Yet again, the fundamental question remains unanswered of how the quality of provision and service will be provided at the same level or, according to Mr Parsons, much improved, while not only paying off the debt, but also making a profit for the company. This question was not answered by either Mr Parsa nor Dr Stephen Dunn from the SHA.

Dr Dunn has assured us on a number of occasions, including this one, that the new contract will be paid at the same rate as other hospitals. This rate has never previously enabled the hospital to reduce its debt, despite the scrutiny of external consultants, including KPMG. What will change?

In addition, if this “innovative” (for which read ‘experimental’) management fails, what will happen to the patients’ needs? We have still been given no details about an exit strategy, nor what robust systems will be in place to manage the contract, an area that is often the failing of public service arrangements, and no explanation of the costs of this procurement process or subsequent costs of this innovative concept.

All Dr Dunn would say is that the NHS would not allow this (failure) to happen. Yet Mr Parsa admitted that his company had no experience of managing a large general hospital with A and E and maternity departments.

By the time the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed on the contract it will be too late for anything to be changed or for the people of Huntingdonshire to amend the agreement in any way. This should be seen for what it is: a politically-driven experimental type of management – at our expense.

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A full cost appraisal of the process, the contract and its management is unlikely to show value for money and benefit the people of Huntingdonshire.