MANAGERS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital have praised staff and the public who backed them for helping to devise what looks like a rescue package for A&E and surgery at the hospital. As reported exclusively in The Hunts Post last week, managers and medical sta
MANAGERS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital have praised staff and the public who backed them for helping to devise what looks like a rescue package for A&E and surgery at the hospital.
As reported exclusively in The Hunts Post last week, managers and medical staff have found ways to streamline services at one of the smallest acute hospitals in the country in a way that will enable vital medical services to stay in Huntingdon.
They will cut across traditional ways of working to deliver services more efficiently and make up for the loss of income resulting from an overall reduction in the number of cases. Around a quarter of the patients who are now seen at the hospital will in future be treated - as effectively, but less expensively - in clinics, health centres, doctors' surgeries and their own homes.
Hinchingbrooke has been in financial crisis since a small deficit last April suddenly burgeoned into a projected £29.9million debt by the end of March 2007. There were fears that the hospital would have to be downgraded and would lose most of its acute A&E capability along with vital "general" surgery. (The term "general" is often misunderstood in this context - it actually covers all operations other than highly specialised procedures.)
Although a question mark still hangs over the future of loss-making maternity services, the financial gap has narrowed, and staff are confident that interim chief executive Jane Herbert will be able to work her magic there too.
Staff, from cleaners to consultants, are clearly buoyed up by last week's morale-boosting news about the future. Their dedication in adversity has been one of the factors that has enabled administrators, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to deliver that proposed rescue package.
If staff had abandoned the hospital in significant numbers, no rescue package, however ground-breaking, could have been made to work.
Ms Herbert told The Hunts Post: "All of us at Hinchingbrooke hospital want to thank The Hunts Post and the people of Huntingdonshire for their support over the last few difficult months. It has made a big difference to the hospital.
"On behalf of trust management, I would personally like to thank Hinchingbrooke staff, who have remained focused on patient care through these rather uncertain times. I'm sure that it's recognition of the quality of patient service here that has generated so much local support.
"Although things are looking brighter, we have some serious money worries still. But one thing is for sure - without a good team of staff we haven't got a hospital to save!"
Louise Perkins, who works in the ultrasound department at the hospital, said: "It's certainly looking brighter. I didn't know about the new plans until I read The Hunts Post. We all hope it will be really good news for the future."
Outpatients department matron Trish Caruana added: "2007 is a 007 year - action-packed and full of change. We are looking forward very positively. We shall see what it brings, but we'll still be here."
The mood is buoyant even in the maternity unit. Midwife Carly Mann said: "The future's not quite so certain, but things look positive, even if we know there will have to be some changes. We hope women will have more babies and help to promote the maternity unit."
Her colleague, care assistant Kim Mnych added: "We're all looking ahead positively. The mood generally throughout the hospital is very good - far better than it was a few months ago.