Healthwatch helps local voices be heard in Hinchingbrooke Hospital merger
More than 50 people came to our Hinchingbrooke event last night, where we had a lively conversation about the potential future merger of Hinchingbrooke Hospital with Peterborough and Stamford Hospital Trust.
Val Moore, our Chair, hosted this event to hear the different perspectives on the proposed merger in the run up to the Hinchingbrooke Hospital Board meeting on 25th November. This has been the first truly independent meeting. Our speakers were:
- Lance McCarthy, Chief Executive, and Deirdre Fowler, Director of Nursing & Midwifery, from Hinchingbrooke Hospital who spoke for the hospital Board. The Board has analysed huge amounts of information and have the responsibility of making the decisions about the future of the Trust.
- Eddie Roberts and Steven Carne were our speakers from Hands off Hinchingbrooke. Val described the group as stars; a small alliance of networked activists including unions, ex NHS staff and the public. They can be spikey, passionate and with their campaigning expertise never give up getting their views across.
- Finally, we heard from Amanda Buckenham, who set up the We Love Hinchingbrooke Facebook page in response to negative publicity at the hospital at the time of a poor Care Quality Commission inspection. Val said that Amanda has a big heart and speaks from her experience, and for her family and her knowledge of what the hospital is and does on a day to day basis. She is a community developer and a volunteer Chair of the Maternity Services Liaison Committee at Hinchingbrooke.
We tried very hard to make sure that each speaker had an equal amount of time to present their case and answer any questions from the floor.
What the hospital said:
- Hinchingbrooke Hospital is not clinically or financially sustainable; essentially, this is because they are too small. Although they have looked for other solutions, the Board believe a merger with Peterborough & Stamford is the best option.
- They realise that a merger is not without its risks. The Board are doing everything they can to minimize these and get the best benefits for patients. The risk of doing nothing is worse.
- A merger would let them protect and develop services, e.g. cardiology and haematology.
- The two hospital Trusts have held 16 public meetings so far with more booked, to help them listen to and respond to people’s questions. They have produced a key fact documents for people and a plain English explanation of what the merger means.
What Eddie Roberts and Steven Carne from Hands off Hinchingbrooke said:
- There are concerns around a 1st April 2017 merge date which they think is too soon. As an acquisition, it will need Secretary of State approval and the full process could take two years.
- They believe the plans may be influenced by NHS England or local health commissioners to help solve the financial problems at Peterborough & Stamford Trust.
- They believe there is little staff or public support for a merger; they raise concerns about the risks of merging and call on the process to be stopped. They present an alternative proposal to have service level agreements to share staff and resources between hospital Trusts to make savings.
- They ask how the Sustainability and Transformation Plans will affect the hospital and whether they can have a proper conversation before all the details are known. This has yet to be published by Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, but there are fears it could mean cuts to some services, e.g. the emergency department.
What Amanda said:
- Amanda spoke passionately about how important the hospital and the care it provides is to her and other local people.
- She set up her We Love Hinchingbrooke Facebook group to recognise good care after the hospital was put into special measures in January 2015. The group now has nearly 4,000 followers.
- She encouraged people to stay involved in the process. They can not stop a merger but asks people to sign up for membership of the merged Trust so they can influence how it works for local people.
Val summarised that “We heard in equal measure, perspectives from the activists, the analysts /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."
For more information
- To read more about the proposals for the merger, visit ‘Working with Hinchingbrooke’
- To find out more about Hands off Hinchingbrooke visit http://handsoffhinchingbrooke.org/
- To find out more about We Love Hinchingbrooke visit their Facebook page
Hinchingbrooke Hospital Board will be finalising their decision to merge at their next Board meeting on 24 November, 11.30am, Hill Room, Education Centre at the hospital. Board meetings are held in public and you are welcome to attend. Find out more
If you still have any questions or concerns about the merger, please share them with us and we will pass them on to the hospital. You can also contact the hospital to ask your questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org