Hands off Hinchingbrooke Hospital group relaunch campaign

UNION members in Huntingdonshire are re-launching their failed Hands off Hinchingbrooke campaign – in a bid to see the contract with the hospital’s private managers scrapped.

The district’s Trades Union Council is reacting to what it calls Circle’s “very effective PR machine”.

Branch secretary Steve Sweeney told The Hunts Post he hoped the campaign would gather more support now that people could fully appreciate the reality of the NHS’s controversial first franchise deal.

He said he wanted the campaign to cut through Circle’s “spin”.

“The campaign originally started in 2010, during the initial franchise process but people didn’t really grasp the seriousness of the implications,” he said.

“The re-launch of Hands off Hinchingbrooke has really been sparked off by the free reign that Circle seems to have in the press.

“They have a very good PR machine, they’re a very big company, and I think they are spinning things and not giving away the truth or reality of what is really happening.

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“Things aren’t as rosy in the garden as they are being painted to be.”

He said news of potential job losses at the Huntingdon hospital, first reported in The Hunts Post last month, came as no surprise and he criticised an alleged cut in cleaning services at the hospital.

Mr Sweeney said: “As predicted, the so called efficiencies in reality mean cuts to services and loss of front-line jobs in nursing and cleaning staff.

“On top of that, it would appear that the financial state of the trust means that Circle needs to take out a loan just to meet cost saving targets.

“If the Circle spin team are to be believed then Hinchingbrooke Hospital must be the only hospital in the country with too many nursing staff.”

The Hands off Hinchingbrooke campaign group plans to hold a public meeting in September.

Hisham Abdel-Rahman, medical director, said: “It is that disappointing despite the continuous commitment of the local trade unions to be fully engaged with our medical and nursing leadership, the national union bureaucrats seem to be out of touch with our sincere work to transform Hinchingbrooke into a top 10 district general hospital.

“The hospital board is 80% doctors and nurses who have achieved genuine improvements over the last six months in terms of patient experience,safety and quality. Our staff have worked very hard to provide our community with an excellent hospital. They don’t deserve to read that their efforts are not recognised by the TUC and described as superficial .

“We will continue to work with our local trade union leaders to achieve efficiency at our hospital.”