Unsatisfactory explanations

I ATTENDED the meeting on the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital at Buckden on November 27. There were two meetings in St Ives, one in Buckden and one in Huntingdon. Why was there no meeting in St Neots, Huntingdonshire s largest town? The financial situat

I ATTENDED the meeting on the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital at Buckden on November 27.

There were two meetings in St Ives, one in Buckden and one in Huntingdon. Why was there no meeting in St Neots, Huntingdonshire's largest town?

The financial situation at Hinchingbrooke was not explained to any satisfaction.

Replies to questions about the £6.5million lost through administrative error and the underfunding of services at Hinchingbrooke, and the fact that to provide the same level of service next year would cost the primary care trust an extra £13m, were just passed off as the PCT having no more money to spend on Hinchingbrooke.

There was concern among the public attending the meeting over Addenbrooke's always having first go at the trough for finance because it is a foundation hospital, even though its performance fails in measured categories.

We understand there was a statement made that by 2008 all hospitals would have foundation status, but nothing about having equal status on funding.

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The historic figures being worked on are suspect and no one in the NHS appears to know how to generate the correct figures relating to the size of a hospital, the geographic area, the cost of actual treatments and indirect costs.

Having errors compounded by errors only makes the results meaningless. This is not the way for a national organisation with a responsibility to the public to operate.

The consenus was that the starting figures are at least 10 per cent out and up to 200 per cent out in some areas, where results have been massaged to meet previous targets.

A big question mark hangs over GPs (and whether they could cope with extra responsibilities) and when a request was made for a GP's comments at the meeting no real substance was forthcoming.

Why have so many patients been referred to Hinchingbrooke who could have been dealt with at a local surgery?

Since the new GPs' contract was introduced in 2004 they have reduced their workload by referring more patients to hospital whilst raising their income to four times the average wage.

The strategic health authority's plans appear to be to staff local surgeries with specialised nursing staff, trained by the NHS and hired out to them to deal with cases previously referred to hospital.

To save consultants' time in dealing with A&E cases, the staff at the hospital will be GPs as the first diagnostic contact.

GP practices are now stand-alone profit-making businesses which are not connected with the NHS.

With the announcement of proposed longer opening hours for GP surgeries, why would the GPs want to increase their hours for no increased income or lower profits?

The GPs are effectively in the private sector selling their services to the NHS. This could develop into a dangerous game as, if the NHS does not pay enough, the GPs could walk away. Similarly, if the GPs do not agree with certain NHS decisions, they could walk away, leaving the patient who is funding the NHS in limbo.

A joined up NHS is needed for it to be controlled.

The trials of having specialist nurses at various surgeries on certain days, will help the patient for access but will reduce the number of patients seen and increase costs, as nurses have to travel.

There are currently trials of specialist nurses supplied by Hinchingbrooke to surgeries at Ramsey for dermatology, Godmanchester for ENT and Buckden for diabetes.


Great North Road

Eaton Ford

THE local press has been running a high-profile campaign in support of Hinchingbrooke Hospital for which it should be congratulated. I believe this campaign is supported by all the local political groupings and at the campaign march in Huntingdon calls were made for this to be a non-political issue.

Jonathan Djanogly, as our elected MP, has been acting as a focus for the campaign. Regardless of whether one agrees with his politics or not, there is no doubt that on this issue he is trying to do the job for which he was elected.

What I fail to understand is the local press coverage given to David Cameron and his current thoughts about the NHS. He claims he cares about the NHS but he must think we have very short memories. Mr Cameron voted against extra funding for the NHS and just last year wrote the Tory manifesto which proposed a subsidy for private patients.

Today, Mr Cameron's spending plans would mean cuts to investment in the NHS. In fact, on the day of his conference speech, he dropped his pledge "never" to cut NHS spending.

It's easy to say you want a better NHS, but the test isn't what you say, it's what you do. Just remember that David Cameron voted against more funding for the NHS.



St Ives

GOD forbid if we were to lose Hinchingbrooke Hospital and its services. I have never had one complaint about our nation's health care services. They are - or were - admired throughout the world.

The National Health Service, fantastic: drop in when injured or ill and we'll put you right.

What really annoys me is when opposition parties stand tall and patronise us with false promises suggesting that, were they in power, things would be better. Let's face it, whoever gains power doesn't change things a great deal.

The Prime Minister is managing director of Great Britain Ltd. It has an income, a turnover, and expenditure, as has any privately or nationally owned business and if, by virtue of the fact that expenditure exceeds income, then that company is insolvent and renders itself bankrupt.

Technology has advanced, medicine has advanced, people live longer, but still we expect the same health service to deliver what it did 20 years ago.

Come on, Great Britain Ltd tries to support everyone as equals, maybe too much at times.

If the NHS fails, it is the Government of the day that is called into question. I don't care who is managing director. Just don't stand in front of the front door that you all aspire to and patronise us. Tell us that to have a health service that works for you, then you, as customers of Great Britain Ltd, have to compromise and maybe have a semi-private health service.