More than 50 people attended a meeting to discuss the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Hospital chief executive Lance McCarthy.Hospital chief executive Lance McCarthy.

The event, hosted by Healthwatch Cambridgeshire, on November 7, featured speakers and took questions about the merger of Hinchingbrooke with the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The meeting heard from Lance McCarthy, chief executive of Hinchingbrooke, Val Moore, chair-man of Healthwatch and Deirdre Fowler, director of nursing and midwifery at Hinchingbrooke and a member of the hospital's board.

Eddie Roberts and Steven Carne represented the Hands off Hinchingbrooke group and

Amanda Buckenham, who set up the We Love Hinchingbrooke Facebook page in January 2015, also spoke.

Lance McCarthy told the meeting that Hinchingbrooke was not clinically or inancially sustainable and a merger was the best option to secure its future.

Mr Roberts and Mr Carne raised concerns about the timing of the merger and believe April, 2017 is too soon. They also expressed fears that the plans have been influenced

by NHS England or local health commissioners to help solve financial problems at Peterborough.

The campaigners called for more information about the details of the sustainability and transformation plan, which is yet to be published, and how this could affect services.

Ms Buckenham spoke about the importance of the hospital to local people. She encouraged people to stay involved in the process and sign up for membership of the merged trust.

After the meeting, Val Moore said: "We heard in equal measure - perspectives from the activists, the analysts and decision-makers, and from the biggest patient champion and supporter of staff during the two-hour panel debate.

"People told us they were pleased to have had an opportunity to hear both sides of the argument at the same time and place.

"We will continue to promote local people's right to be informed and have their questions answered, by helping to circulate the new information about the merger from the hospitals."

Also speaking after the meeting, Daniel Laycock, secretary of Hands off Hinchingbrooke, accused the hospital board of scaremongering in order to win public approval.

"Lance McCarthy told the meeting the hospital would close in three years if the merger did not go ahead, which shows that they will say anything to worry residents, patients and staff to ensure that this merger happens, and if this fails there is no plan B."