THE Department of Health is being put under pressure to return £6.5million to Hinchingbrooke Hospital after the money was overpaid in a financial mistake. On Monday Neil McKay, chief executive of the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), asked
THE Department of Health is being put under pressure to return £6.5million to Hinchingbrooke Hospital after the money was overpaid in a financial mistake.
On Monday Neil McKay, chief executive of the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), asked David Nicholson, head of the NHS, to refund the money.
The cash was part of the £19million the Government clawed back from the hospital under the payment by results system. The £6.5million was repaid in error after the wrong box was ticked on a form processed by the hospital's finance department. Two of the hospital's most senior members of staff - finance director, Phil Richards and chief executive, Douglas Pattisson - have resigned since the error was made in May.
During an exclusive interview with the SHA's director of commissioning, Dr Paul Watson, The Hunts Post was told the SHA wanted to see the £6.5million returned.
He said the SHA would make strong representations to the NHS for repayment of the money - a sum roughly equal to 20 per cent of the hospital's predicted £29m deficit.
However, if Hinchingbrooke had been made a foundation hospital it would not have had to repay the Government any money and would not be in debt.
As it is, the search for a solution to repay Hinchingbrooke's debt and keep its spending within its budget continues. This could involve looking at cutting the number of people referred by GPs to the hospital, and reducing the services offered at the hospital in favour of treating people in GP surgeries. There is also the threat of cutting services and moving them to either Addenbrooke's or Peterborough.
The SHA has said it will put the proposals for Hinchingbrooke's future out for public consultation between January and March - a final decision would be expected in April.
In the meantime, 55,000 people - half the adult population of Huntingdonshire - have signed a petition to prevent cuts. The petition has been presented to Downing Street and was introduced into the House of Commons by Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.