I HAVE just been visiting someone who has had a spell in Hinchingbrooke hospital, who could not give the staff and the hospital enough praise. She felt that the running of the ward ‘could not be better’.
It is a real hope that Circle will be able to keep this up and recognise the superb work of the staff already employed there.
When their representative said on Radio Cambridgeshire last week that Circle could pay off the debt and make a profit by increasing efficiency, one wonders where they can do that to such a degree as to be able to pay it off within just 10 years.
Naturally, they are promising everything and are promising to continue to maintain full accident and emergency services as well as the maternity services. This is of course easy to do, especially when they have not yet taken over, and especially as they are still, amazingly, not being required to make their plans public.
What we do not know is whether they are going to increase the prices of the services commissioned by NHS Cambridgeshire. It may be that they raise the prices enough to make the commissioners think again.
The question must be asked of Dr Zollinger-Read [NHS Cambridgeshire chief executive]: Is NHS Cambridgeshire going to guarantee to us, the people of Huntingdonshire, that they will continue to commission maternity and casualty services at Hinchingbrooke?
It would also be good to know whether or not Circle will recognise and will be prepared to have good working relationships with the unions that represent the hard working staff of our hospital?
Is the privatisation of NHS services the future, with news this week that Sainsbury’s will be operating GP services from its stores – apparently they are now recruiting? If so, what has been announced at Hinchingbrooke this week seems to be the beginning of the end of the NHS as we know it. Huntingdon is making history.