The campaign to prevent Hinchingbrooke Hospital from being forced into a merger with an NHS trust in Peterborough needs to be “stepped up” according to Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly as plans for a protest march were revealed.
Mr Djanogly has called on supporters of Hinchingbrooke to join a march through Huntingdon to show the strength of feeling against the proposed merger with Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust, which many fear will see a loss of services locally.
The public march has been arranged for Saturday, April 30, starting at 10am at Riverside Park in Huntingdon. The route will take campaigners along High Street, through to George Street and Brampton Road before reaching the hospital itself.
The march is open to all and is being supported by the Hands Off Hinchingbrooke group.
Mr Djanogly says the aim of the march is to demonstrate “to the board of Hinchingbrooke Hospital the level of support for the hospital’s independence”.
The MP said: “I recently met with the chairmen of Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals to discuss the current proposals for Hinchingbrooke. The outcome of that meeting was confirmation that a merger is still very much on the table, something I remain vehemently opposed to.
“It is clear that the two trust boards are still forging ahead with their plans for a merger and that we must now step up the campaign to save Hinchingbrooke’s services and retain its independence.”
It was announced in January that Hinchingbrooke Hospital could lose some of the main functions of its accident and emergency department, and other key services could be moved to other hospitals as part of a proposed merger with Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS trusts.
According to Mr Djanogly, Hinchingbrooke’s A&E, obstetrics, and maternity departments were being considered as part of a review that could lead to a merger.
The Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough NHS Trust boards signed a memorandum of understanding in December and agreed to look at the business case for merging the hospitals.
A working group, chaired by Hinchingbrooke chief executive Lance McCarthy, has been set up to consider the merger proposal and is expected to publish its conclusions this month.
Steve Sweeney, who campaigns with Hands Off Hinchingbrooke, said: “We share the view that the service at Hinchingbrooke is under threat, and we believe that the merger is a step in the wrong direction.
“We are very clear that the reason that a merger is on the cards is predominantly driven by the finances of the two hospital trusts, which has to be put into a national context. The NHS is facing a funding crisis.”