HINCHINGBROOKE: Union calls public meeting to discuss future of Huntingdon hospital

Hands Off Hinchingbrooke Campaign, outside Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
Organiser Steve Sweeney

Hands Off Hinchingbrooke Campaign, outside Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Organiser Steve Sweeney - Credit: Archant

A public meeting has been called to discuss securing the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital after Circle decide to withdraw from managing the Huntingdon health facility.

The GMB union and the Hands off Hinchingbrooke campaign have set up a meeting at the Huntingdonshire Community Church, High Street, Huntingdon from 7pm on Wednesday, January 14.

Steve Sweeny, GMB regional officer, said “The news comes as no surprise to those of us that have long campaigned against the Circle takeover and called for them to be ‘sacked’ as they lurched from one disaster to another.

“This shows that when the going gets tough, the private sector just cut their losses and walk away leaving the already strained public sector to pick up their mess. It gives me no great pleasure in saying that we warned that this would happen from the start. The Hinchingbrooke experiment should be held up as a stark warning of the dangers of NHS privatisation.

“Circle has timed its departure ahead of an eagerly awaited CQC report. This is expected to be highly damning of their running of the hospital, in particular relating to patient care, staffing issues, hygiene, financial instability and failure to listen to staff concerns.”

He added: “The deal was initially forced through amid great secrecy and questions were not answered under the cloak of corporate confidentiality. It soon became apparent why. Circle’s projected figures were wildly optimistic and we feared that this would place jobs and services at risk.

“We warned at the time that Circle’s claim that they could make £311million of savings over 10 years was unsustainable. The National Audit Office agreed and their report in late 2012 warned that they hadn’t factored in the risks properly and expressed concern over the level of savings that they had projected.

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“The Circle tenure at Hinchingbrooke was always more spin than substance. We must now secure the long-term future of the hospital as one that is NHS run, publicly funded and publicly accountable with no more private sector experiments.”