Hospital still caters for women

TRUDY Capper (Letters, June 21) is correct in saying that the beds on Rowan Ward are to be closed and relocated, with the majority of patients being transferred into the newly opened Treatment Centre, and others being cared for on Beech Ward as a cost sav

TRUDY Capper (Letters, June 21) is correct in saying that the beds on Rowan Ward are to be closed and relocated, with the majority of patients being transferred into the newly opened Treatment Centre, and others being cared for on Beech Ward as a cost saving measure.

Whilst this is a change from having a female only ward, it does have the benefit of providing women with the best facilities that the hospital has in the Treatment Centre. These facilities are brand new with single accommodation and bays that accommodate a maximum of three patients with en-suite facilities.

This means that a patient would share a bay with just two other patients, both of whom will be women. It is also important to say that the highly experienced staff from Rowan Ward have been redeployed to care for the patients in the new accommodation.

As a hospital, we are determined to care for our patients in the best accommodation and to the highest standard at all times. As part of this, every effort is made to ensure patients are not placed in mixed sex bays. Mixed sex bays are now largely a thing of the past but, on rare occasions when the hospital is under significant pressure due to an influx of emergency admissions, it has been necessary to place patients in a mixed sex bay. However, on every occasion this is done in consultation with the patient requiring admission, and those already in the bay, and the length of time that this pertains is kept to an absolute minimum.

Trudy also asked for an explanation about how the hospital can afford to continue building when facing a shortfall in finances. The answer is that the hospital receives separate funding capital to improve its buildings and to buy equipment. This is quite separate from the money received as revenue funding to meet the costs of running the hospital on a day to day basis. This includes staff costs (70 per cent of total expenditure) and the costs of drugs, dressings and the other items used in caring for patients. These two funding streams are quite separate, and the money received to maintain and improve the buildings cannot be used to pay the staff and to cover the costs of drugs.

Lastly, Trudy raised a point about cancer services. Mr Benson, consultant breast surgeon, who worked at Hinchingbrooke Hospital for approximately seven years, has been successful in applying for a job at Addenbrooke's Hospital. While Mr Benson is a sad loss to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, we have been successful in recruiting another consultant breast surgeon on a temporary basis, pending a permanent appointment to the post. The breast services provided at Hinchingbrooke Hospital are well established and continuing to function in the normal way, using all the expertise that is available through the multi-disciplinary team, including radiologists, pathologists, oncologists and the breast care nurses.

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I would wish to reassure Trudy that Hinchingbrooke Hospital will continue to provide services for women, including the breast service, for the foreseeable future.

DOUGLAS PATTISSON, Chief Executive, Hinchingbrooke Hospital

* AN utterly disgusting scenario is being played out with the lives of staff at an efficient and caring hospital, serving people who sorely need decent care in the area (Threat to 200 hospital jobs, June 14).

Having had reason to use the provision at Hinchingbrooke, Peterborough and Addenbrooke's over the last few years, I can honestly say that Hinchingbrooke stands head and shoulders above the rest. In particular, its maternity services are a haven for people who have had miserable experiences at Peterborough maternity unit and the excellent treatment centre is health care as it should be offered, in comfortable surroundings, with staff who have the time and training to put patients first.

It is an outrage that this hospital is being punished for its own success and dismal that the staff who strive for excellence are going to be reduced to a skeleton that can provide only an average service.

Come on, people of Huntingdon, get behind your hospital. Write to your MP and save it and the people who work there, because you won't realise how lucky you are until it is gone.

MERRY RAYMOND, Orton Northgate, Peterborough

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