HINCHINGBROOKE Hospital’s productivity is among the best in the country, according to new figures.

HINCHINGBROOKE Hospital's productivity is among the best in the country, according to new figures.

Campaigners against the NHS plans to franchise the Huntingdon hospital's management say it is doing so well in the public sector that private involvement should be ditched now.

Hinchingbrooke is judged the most productive hospital in Eastern England - and the second best in the entire country - on two out of seven productivity measures, and second-best in the east on two others. Overall, it is in the top 25 per cent of NHS hospitals nationally on six of the seven measures.

Hinchingbrooke excels at reducing the number of days patients occupy beds before elective (non-emergency) surgery and in reducing the number of patients who fail to turn up for appointments.

It is almost as good at reducing the need for unnecessary follow-up appointments and cutting down the need for emergency re-admissions.

It is only on the measure of reducing the total length of hospital stays that it is not classified among the best in the land, coming 16th out of the 18 hospital trusts in the East of England and just 135th nationally out of 167.

On the other measures, it ranged from second (in two) to 55th nationally.

Two of the measures that helped to improve productivity involved consultants holding 'virtual' clinics or speaking to patients on the telephone without their having to attend, and sending text messages to patients to remind them of their appointments.

The hospital also changed the way it sent reminder letters to patients closer to the time of the appointment.

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement Better Care, Better Value figures compare all hospitals in terms of how efficiently they are working.

The indicators are intended to reveal the potential to make significant cash or resource savings while improving quality.

Chief executive Gerry McSorley said: "These figures are encouraging for the trust and its staff. Hinchingbrooke has worked hard to make efficiency changes and improve quality. The results are great news."

But campaigners against franchising the hospital's management said the results proved them right.

The NHS is spending millions of pounds on a process that is intended to provide a template for other health service organisations to find a 'partner' to manage the hospital.

The field has been reduced to two private sector organisations: the facilities management giant Serco, in a joint venture with Peterborough and Stamford HNS Hospitals Trust, and London-based Circle Healthcare.

Tom Woodcock, from the trade union campaign Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts, told The Hunts Post: "It just proves that Hinchingbrooke is worth defending in its entirety within the NHS.

"Shifting the management is simply another agenda to use a very good district hospital to show that private healthcare firms can run it."

He said campaigners were trying to organise a debate on the franchising issue with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who is also MP for South Cambridgeshire.

The strategic health authority was unabashed, however. An NHS East of England spokesman told The Hunts Post: "We are pleased that the latest Better Care, Better Value indicators show improvement in some areas of productivity at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. NHS East of England continues to work with the Trust to improve service performance.

"However, this does not take away the need to find a clinically and financially-sustainable future for Hinchingbrooke Hospital, and our plans for the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital remain unchanged."