Voice your view on healthcare

PATIENTS in Huntingdonshire will have their chance to say whether they think new ways of delivering healthcare in the district would work. Working groups of Hinchingbrooke Hospital specialists, GPs, patients and managers have been looking at new, less exp

PATIENTS in Huntingdonshire will have their chance to say whether they think new ways of delivering healthcare in the district would work.

Working groups of Hinchingbrooke Hospital specialists, GPs, patients and managers have been looking at new, less expensive ways of providing services.

This includes reducing the caseload at the hospital by 20 or 30 per cent by treating patients elsewhere in the community.

The hospital is arranging four sessions later this month for the public to give its verdict on the new ideas.


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Although venues have not yet been booked, managers hope the four meetings will be in Huntingdon, St Neots, St Ives and Ramsey.

The first, on Tuesday November 21, will examine surgery. A session on obstetrics will follow on Thursday November 23, with A&E the following Monday, November 27, and cancer services two days later on Wednesday November 29.

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The views of recent patients and their relatives will be particularly valuable at these sessions, to which MPs Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) and Shailesh Vara (North West Cambridgeshire) have also been invited, said Karen Charman, Hinchingbrooke's director of human resources and communications. She is hoping to attract a nationally-renowned expert to speak at each of the sessions.

"The review of services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital is not just about saving money," Mrs Charman said. "While there is an urgent need to stem the hospital's increasing debt, there is also a need to ensure that hospital services across the whole of the East of England meet the demands of 21st century healthcare and are clinically as well as financially sustainable for the next 10-20 years.

"Because of this, the East of England Strategic Health Authority is looking at acute services across the region, with the review at Hinchingbrooke forming a part of this process.

"Healthcare is changing almost daily, and medicine today is very different from 40 years ago. Modern clinical standards demand that some services need a much larger caseload than exist in most district general hospitals in order to guarantee the best possible clinical outcome," she explained.

"An example of this is cancer surgery, where some cancer services require a catchment area of one million people to give the best clinical outcomes. This means that these clinical services need to be centralised in hospitals which serve a catchment area of several of the current district general hospitals.

"Restrictions in working hours have meant that more doctors are now required to staff a 24/7 rota. In 1990, a 24-hour A&E rota could be staffed with three doctors. However, following full implementation of the European Working Directive in 2009, this could increase to nine or 10.

"No change at the hospital is not an option. But through this review, the hospital will ensure the plans and ideas developed will provide the best possible service to meet the needs of the people of the area."

This stage of the review is due to be completed by the end of the year. After that, detailed plans for the future will be published for formal public consultation in the new year.

This process will be conducted by the newly formed Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, which will be responsible for making the final decisions about the future for the hospital.

Entrance to the meetings will be free. The Hunts Post will publish details of venues and booking arrangements next week.

The cross-party petition, organised by Huntingdonshire Conservatives, to protect Hinchingbrooke services, will be presented to the Prime Minister's Office later this month.

MP Jonathan Djanogly said provisional arrangements had been made to hand over the Parliamentary petition, which is thought to have attracted 20,000 signatures, on Monday afternoon, November 20.

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