Health secretary’s visit to Hinchingbrooke Hospital brings no guarantees for campaigners

Jeremy Hunt with Admiral nurse Angela Moore and health care assistant Sharon Kennedy.

Jeremy Hunt with Admiral nurse Angela Moore and health care assistant Sharon Kennedy. - Credit: Archant

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke to Hands off Hinchingbrooke campaigners last Friday but refused to issue any long-term guarantees about the future of services at the hospital.

The MP met with staff and patients on Cherry Ward and visited the newly-refurbished Woodlands Centre at Hinchingbrooke, before discussing the hospital’s pending take-over with chief executive Lance McCarthy, board chairman Alan Burns and Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.

Mr Hunt told campaigners, who had gathered outside the hospital, that he understood public concerns over Hinchingbrooke’s merger with the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but was satisfied it was a positive move that would be beneficial to people in the area.

Dr Nik Johnson, chairman of the Huntingdon Labour Party, who had joined the campaigners, said: “We have some real concerns that this could be closure of some of the hospital’s services by stealth. It is quite clear that as this process moves closer to conclusion that it is a takeover of Hinchingbrooke and there are worries that this will lead to the eventual closure of some departments as they are transferred to Peterborough. When this was put to Mr Hunt he told us he had no knowledge or vision of this, but could offer no guarantees that services would remain on site.”

The secretary of state is said to have talked to staff and patients during the visit and met the hospital’s new admiral nurse, Angela Moore and healthcare assistant Sharon Kennedy. He discussed future training needs for doctors and nurses, the effects of Brexit on the NHS and the new junior doctors’ contracts with members of staff.

Lance McCarthy said: “It’s a huge compliment for Hinchingbrooke to be asked to host a visit by the secretary of state who wholeheartedly praised the hospital and the staff he had met. I am very proud of all of our staff and we were delighted to be able to showcase their achievements.”