Hinchingbrooke Hospital ‘cannot continue to swim against the tide’

Chairman of Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust, Alan Burns,

Chairman of Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust, Alan Burns, - Credit: Archant

A new sustainable business model will be created for Hinchingbrooke Hospital to ensure it can meet the future health needs of the people of Huntingdonshire, it has been revealed.

In an exclusive interview with The Hunts Post, Alan Burns, chairman of the hospital’s board, revealed that ongoing collaborative talks with the Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals Trust could mean that Hinchingbrooke is merged with, or acquired by, the larger hospital, which has foundation trust status. Mr Burns, who was appointed as chairman in March 2015, said he could not rule out job losses or the loss of some services, but did point out that is was not a “done deal” and said he wanted the process to be as open and transparent as possible.

“Let’s face it, the Cambridgeshire health system is in a bit of a mess,” he said.

“Peterborough has a significant overspend, as do we, and the deficits are getting bigger. There are a lot of things you can do, but we need to make things more efficient, it is not enough to simply save some money.

“We will start with the back office functions, and it could be that someone else, like the community trust, wants to come along also, but it is very hard to justify spending more than you need to in the public sector.”

Mr Burns confirmed it was, in fact, Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals Trust who approached Hinchingbrooke with the suggestion to work together and the view was that it would have been “churlish” not to have engaged with them.

“This is a small hospital, in fact, it is one of the smallest in the country, if not, the smallest, which means there are a lot of advantages, but that also presents some difficulties. It means many of our services are almost single-handed, in that there is just one expert in a particular field whereas Peterborough might have three or four experts.

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“Once we have looked at the back office functions and the clinical services we need to ask what more we could do if we change the way we run the organisation. What could we do under a merger. The new services might not be the same as the ones we have now, but Hinchingbrooke cannot continue to swim against the tide.”

Both hospitals have set up project teams and have until April to prepare an outline business case which may not necessarily be made public.

There will, however, be consultation with the public if weightier matters such as an acquisition or a merger are put forward.