Board issues assurance that A&E at Hinchingbrooke will not be downgraded post merger

Alan Burns, chairman of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital board.

Alan Burns, chairman of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital board. - Credit: Archant

Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s board has issued an assurance that A&E services will not be downgraded as part of its merger plans.

Chief executive, Lance McCarthy, and board chairman, Alan Burns, were responding to claims, at a board meeting last Thursday, that the hospital’s emergency department was under threat as part of far-reaching proposals contained in the System Transformation Plan (STP), published by the Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on November 21.

The Huntingdon Labour Party issued a statement after the publication of the STP, raising fears that emergency services at Hinchingbrooke were due to be downgraded.

They described the plans for an urgent care centre for Huntingdon in the STP report as either “poor report writing” or a “deliberate attempt to mislead”.

Mr Burns told the handful of people who had gathered at the board meeting that emergency care services would continue at Hinchingbrooke, Stamford and Peterborough hospitals after the planned merger next year.

“Following in-depth, clinician-led reviews of national guidance, evidence and local needs, it was agreed that emergency care, consultant-led obstetric and paediatric services should continue across all three acute hospital sites,” he said.

Mr Burns admitted that concerns were justified and blamed the wording in the STP report, which had referred to an “urgent care centre” at Hinchingbrooke rather than an A&E department, leading to suggestions that A&E could be downgraded, possibly, to a minor injuries unit.

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“I understand your concerns, but whether it is an urgent care department or accident and emergency, the case mix will remain the same,” he said.

Asked by a Hands off Hinchingbrooke campaigner at the meeting whether ambulance service protocols would remain the same, Mr Burns confirmed they would.

The board ratified its decision to approve the full business case to merge with the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (PSHFT) which will mean Hinchingbrooke will be acquired by PSHFT on April 1 next year, after PSHFT ratified its decision to merge yesterday (Tuesday).

Approximately 140 non-clinical jobs will be lost as a result of the merger, which will produce a one-off cost of £13 million to administer.