Centralisation of hospital services could be on the agenda

hinchingbrooke_hospital07:26 Friday 11th March 2016
BBC Radio Cambridge

DOTTY MCLEOD: Uncertainty this morning over the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital, and it’s causing upset for patients, according to the local MP. Huntingdon’s MP Jonathan Djanogly has accused two local hospital trusts of using weasel words to try and cover up plans for a merger. There are proposals to extend an agreement for closer working and to merge certain services with Peterborough City Hospital. Jonathan Djanogly wants what he calls a secret document from the health regulator Monitor to be revealed. Dr Nik Johnson is a pediatrician at Hinchingbrooke Hospital. He also stood as the Labour Party candidate at the General Election. Nik, is this paranoia from Jonathan Djanogly, or is he right to be worried?
NIK JOHNSON: Good morning Dotty. I think paranoid is probably the wrong word. I think the people who work at the Hospital do need to be concerned, but I feel that there’s probably something more to this in terms of the way it’s been presented. Because how you introduced that, you talked about both hospitals working together. If you look at the website as it’s been put down by Jonathan Djanogly, he’s particularly I think using a diversionary tactic by blaming the Peterborough Hospital Trust, accusing them of a takeover and weasel, and they are the words that are actually on his website. But I think what he’s trying to do, on principle I think everybody who stood in the General Election like myself would all be saying yes we want to support and protect our local hospital, so it would seem that we should be working together. My feelings are that the way that this has been put together, it’s an ongoing effect of the changes to the way the NHS has been run over the last five years in terms of the commissioning arrangements. And unfortunately when we talk about health challenged economy, locally with all three hospitals in Cambridgeshire currently running at a deficit, which is mirrored across the country, it comes down to the fact that it’s actually our current Government which is underfunding our local healthcare.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK. Let’s boil it down to what will matter the most to patients of these two hospitals, and particularly to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, because I think most people agree that that is the hospital which will lose out the most if a merger or a takeover takes place. Do you think something like that is on the cards Nik?
NIK JOHNSON: I think if you look at announcements that have come out from NHS England by Simon Stevens, that the model of district general hospital is vulnerable. And the services identified, particularly obstetrics, and most importantly the Accident and Emergency Department do have a vulnerability. You can look at lots of examples even within the Eastern Region, such as the Lister Hospital Welwyn Garden City models, where over the course of time, by a change in prioritising where patients could go, they’ve changed from what was a one time too vibrant district general hospital to one where there’s only one A&E department. And my worry would be in the long term for the whole of the East of England you could see a situation where we have four centralised hospitals of Peterborough, Cambridge, Norfolk and Ipswich. And all district general hospitals, the models would no longer exist. And that’s something that’s pushed I think as a sort of you could say a secret agenda, in terms of the way that the NHS is being reorganised. And it’s obviously not one I support.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Jonathan Djanogly has this petition against any kind of merger of the two hospitals, Peterborough City and Hinchingbrooke. Will you be signing it Nik?
NIK JOHNSON: The Labour Party has previously made it quite clear in the Hunts Post that yes the petition can be made available. But the fact that it’s linked in to a direct link with Jonathan Djanogly’s mailing list would mean that if you actually sign up to it, there’s every chance that you will then be receiving ongoing correspondence from him. And it’s not something that we would be advocating. We’d certainly advocate standing up for your local hospital, but not necessarily signing that petition.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK Nik. Thank you for your time. Dr Nik Johnson, who’s a pediatrician at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.