Support and accusations of “scaremongering” in response to Tuesday’s announcement about future plans for Hinchingbrooke Hospital

hinchingbrooke hospital sign

hinchingbrooke hospital sign - Credit: Archant

In what has been an overwhelming response to news yesterday that Hinchingbrooke Hospital is considering plans to collaborate with Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals Trust, Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has been accused of scaremongering.

However, there has also been support for Mr Djanogly’s campaign to protect vital services and prevent Hinchingbrooke being “acquired” by the Peterborough hospital.

Unison, which represents 1.3 million public services workers, has called on the MP to provide more evidence to back up his claims.

Regional organiser Jo Rust said: “Mr Djanogly should provide evidence if he has seen a ‘secret memorandum of understanding’ which places the hospital in his constituency at such risk, and then work with us to retain both the services and the jobs, rather than talk as if this is a foregone conclusion. Staff morale at Hinchingbrooke is already low following the calamitous failed takeover by Circle and Mr Djanogly’s remarks will cause staff more worry.”

However, Healthwatch Cambridgeshire contacted The Hunts Post to say it would be asking both trusts to ensure that local people were involved in any future decisions. The group has pointed out that the term ‘organisational form’, used in the joint statement issued by both hospitals on Tuesday, may mean that Hinchingbrooke becomes part of PSHFT.

A spokesman for Healthwatch said: “Technically this would be an acquisition, as Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals is a Foundation Trust. We understand there is not a legal requirement for the trusts to consult on any changes to the organisational structure. However, we know that local people will be concerned that any changes will affect the services they use.

“We will be asking the trusts to make sure that local people are involved in any significant decisions about the future of these hospitals. We will also ask them to explain the business case for any changes.”

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Alan Burns, chairman of Hinchingbrooke, said: “We are looking at making the best use of money without a diminution of services.”

Mr Burns said both trusts would be producing an outline business case on the hospitals’ future by April.

Amanda Buckenham, who set up the We Love Hinchingbrooke Facebook page in January 2015, has already written to Mr Djanogly with her concerns, said she feared lives could be lost if people were forced to seek emergency treatment at other hospitals.

“If Hinchingbrooke is sucked up into a bigger hospital I would have huge concerns about the distance that people would have to travel. If we are talking about a child or someone who has had a stroke or heart attack – I would be fearful that lives could be lost.”

Mrs Buckenham said she would be using social media to show her support for staff at Hinchingbrooke.

The mum-of-four, who has 3,600 members on her Facebook page, is urging people to sign Mr Djanogly’s petition.