Future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital could be in question as review into possible merger is announced

Hinchingbrooke Hospital,

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, - Credit: Archant

Hinchingbrooke Hospital could lose some of the main functions of its accident and emergency department, and key services could be moved to other hospitals as part of a proposed merger, it has been announced.

Lance McCarthy, chief executive of Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Lance McCarthy, chief executive of Hinchingbrooke Hospital. - Credit: Archant

It is understood that staff at the Huntingdon hospital were briefed today before an official announcement which detailed the proposals between Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS trusts that, according to Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, could threaten the future of Hinchingbrooke.

“The worry here is that Peterborough will acquire Hinchingbrooke and move main wards from Hinchingbrooke into their vacant floor, leading to sustainability issues for Hinchingbrooke,” he told The Hunts Post.

“Also of concern is that the NHS acquisition rules seem not to provide for a need for consultation which will clearly not be acceptable for Huntingdonshire residents. From a Huntingdonshire perspective, the loss of services are clearly of great concern.

“Very much up at the front for Huntingdonshire will be the huge upset these proposals will cause to local patients and residents who highly value their local hospital, its services and staff.

“It is my understanding that this process could include A & E, obsteterics, and maternity”, said Mr Djanogly.

Earlier suggestions that the paediatric unit could also be moved were refuted Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, which runs the Special Care Baby Unit and Holly Ward at Hinchingbrooke said it had no knowledge of any plans to move the services from the hospital.

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Matthew Winn, chief executive of the community services trust, said: “This programme is exclusively between the two trusts and therefore will not look at services such as paediatric services and musculoskeletal services, which are operated by us.”

The Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough NHS Trust boards signed what has been described by Mr Djanogly as a “secret memorandum of understanding” in December and agreed to look at the business case for merging the hospitals.

A working group, chaired by Hinchingbrooke CEO Lance McCarthy, has been set up to consider whether Peterborough should “acquire Hinchingbrooke” and it is expected to publish its conclusions in April.

According to Mr Djanogly the move is being “very much pushed” by Peterborough, and he has called for the hospital to clarify its intentions.

The Hunts Post understands that Hinchingbrooke, however, is less keen to rush ahead and wants to merge back office facilities and then consider the clinical organisation of services in three or four years time.

A joint statement issued by Mr McCarthy, and Stephen Graves, chief executive of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS trust, said: “The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough health system faces a significant financial challenge, now and longer term.

“Local health and social care organisations have been working together in recent months to identify ways in which we can work together to meet this challenge.

“The work undertaken to date has identified five main areas – one of which is Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust and Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust working more closely together. As a result we have decided to work together to review what savings could be jointly achieved by working more collaboratively, particularly focusing on ‘back office’ services, how we could collaborate clinically to develop a clinical strategy and improve outcomes for patients and potential organisational form.

“We have shared this news with our staff in both organisations today and have started a programme of open forums where staff can pose any questions or concerns they may have to their chief executive.

“We will be keeping staff informed of the review work as it progresses.”