Hospital will not be downgraded

FEARS that Hinchingbrooke Hospital could be back in the frame for downgrading from a region-wide review of acute services have been dismissed by the East of England Strategic Health Authority. A review of the hospital late last year coincided with the sta

FEARS that Hinchingbrooke Hospital could be back in the frame for downgrading from a region-wide review of acute services have been dismissed by the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

A review of the hospital late last year coincided with the start of the examination of services required from all 19 of the east of England's district general hospitals, of which Hinchingbrooke is the smallest.

Huntingdonshire District Council's leader, former Addenbrooke's nurse, Councillor Ian Bates, is to ask for reassurances that the Huntingdon hospital will not be back in the frame as a result.

"The SHA review is independent of what Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust is doing. It would be inappropriate for Hinchingbrooke to take a double hit," he told HDC's cabinet.


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"It's not that sort of a review," said a spokesman for the SHA. "It's a framework for services for the next 10 or 20 years. When it reports, probably next October, it will not say where services need to be or what they will look like. That's for the PCTs to decide."

The SHA had been closely involved in the rescue plan for Hinchingbrooke that is currently being consulted on by Cambridgeshire PCT and sees almost the entire current range of services retained at Hinchingbrooke, she added. It also envisages cost savings of £14.5million a year.

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"We have been fully involved in finding a solution for a viable future for Hinchingbrooke."

HDC will also tell the PCT that it has concerns about the hospital's ability to make such large savings and is not convinced the £2.5million set aside for capital projects to enable around 20 per cent of the hospital's work to be moved into health centres, doctors' surgeries and patients' homes will be adequate.

There are also reservations about how patients will access services if they move from Huntingdon, and fears that local accountability could be lost when the Hinchingbrooke trust is dissolved in two years' time to save £1million a year.

"It's not just about patients. It's about the staff as well," Cllr Bates added.

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