Hospital rescue plan will have low impact on GP surgeries

RESCUE plans for Hinchingbrooke Hospital will displace an average of just two patients a week into the surgeries of each of Huntingdonshire s 127 family doctors. Janice Steed, commissioning director for Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, which is nearing

RESCUE plans for Hinchingbrooke Hospital will displace an average of just two patients a week into the surgeries of each of Huntingdonshire's 127 family doctors.

Janice Steed, commissioning director for Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, which is nearing the end of a three-month consultation process on the proposals, told members of the hospital's joint scrutiny committee that reducing Hinchingbrooke's workload by 20 per cent would mean just 250 extra patients a week in GP surgeries.

The PCT's plan, which safeguards virtually every hospital service, includes transferring around a fifth of procedures "into the community".

However, the PCT has been struggling to get some councillors and campaigners to understand what that means in practice.


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Many services will continue to be provided on the hospital site by the same staff. The difference is that the services will be provided directly by the PCT at less cost than the hospital itself would be entitled to receive from the PCT if it continued to provide the services.

Other services will be provided in health centres and surgeries around the district by GPs with special interests, building on initiatives such as the skin clinic that has been run by Buckden GP Paolo Fargnoli for the past four years.

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St Neots GP Dr Eira Trewavas said GPs would be able to cope with the additional burden and were very supportive of the PCT's plans for the future of Hinchingbrooke.

His view was backed by committee member Nick Roberts, from the patient and public involvement forum, who said he was "totally satisfied" that the plan was viable, a view towards which the committee, which has been sceptical in the past, now seems to be moving.

Hinchingbrooke chief executive Mark Millar said his managers were involved in detailed analysis of how the changes would impact on operations and would bring together best practice from across the country.

"The issue is not whether we can make the hospital sustainable but what we have to do to make it so. I wouldn't be here is if I didn't believe it was possible,' he told the committee.

"The changes proposed are like planning a new hospital - looking at what people are doing excellently around the country in small pockets and bring them together in one place.

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