Hospital merger proposal decried

“This document that came out today talks about savings in the region of £9 million. Well Peterborough has got a deficit of over £40 million. So there has to be more than that.”

j_djanogly17:11 Wednesday 18th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: A merger between Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough City hospitals is looking ever more likely after senior bosses at both hospitals backed plans for a full merger between the two Trusts. An outline business case has been published recommending the merger. From April 2017 four options are being explored by the two Trusts. They say integrating services could save money. Option one would be to do nothing; two would see back offices merged; three the same but with just one executive team; option four would see a full integration into just one organisation. So they’re talking about saving money, but will it improve health care? A really key question, one we want to put now to the MP for Huntingdon, Jonathan Djanogly, who joins me now. Afternoon.
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Good afternoon.
CHRIS MANN: Four options. Which one would you press?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: We would go for no merger, but we accept that where savings can be made, they should be made. And where there’s joint working to be had, that should be encouraged. But in terms of the merger, it’s absolutely the vast majority position in my constituency that that would not be welcome.
CHRIS MANN: OK. So which of the options, one, two, three or four are you going for then?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well they have gone for option four, which is a full merger. Although I think it’s very important to say that this is not their fixed outcome. This is basically their proposals, and now they sit down and go through the figures, and go through how the services would be split between the hospitals and so forth. So it’s actually at a vital stage over the next few months, and we will want to keep up the pressure then.
CHRIS MANN: So saving money is what appears to be top of the managers’ agenda. But improving health care is what the patients are worried about.
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well I think saving money is important in the health service. Hinchingbrooke has a financial issue. Peterborough has very serious financial problems, a huge deficit. In fact every hospital in the East of England virtually has got a deficit. So there are financial issues, and they do have to be addressed. But the savings that they’re going to make from merging these two hospitals it has to be said are not going to solve Peterborough’s problems. This document that came out today talks about savings in the region of £9 million. Well Peterborough has got a deficit of over £40 million. So there has to be more than that. And what there is more is the realisation that Huntingdonshire is one of the fastest growing areas of the country. We have a hugely increasing population. We have huge numbers of houses being built. And all of this is going to increase in future years, and we’re going to need more health provision, not less. And we’re talking about excellent health provision here, very popular services.
CHRIS MANN: So is the result of all this for the future looking forward that people in Huntingdon as you say, rapidly growing, they’re going to have to go to either Peterborough or Cambridge in the event of an emergency in years to come?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well that is certainly not what has been said today. But that is the fear.
CHRIS MANN: But they wouldn’t say that would they?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well quite. That is the fear that we have. So for instance we know that Peterborough has several empty wards, and if they were going to merge the Trusts, it may become very tempting in a year or two down the line to move services from Hinchingbrooke to Peterborough. And that of course would be a disaster as far as my local constituents are concerned. But these are the sorts of issues that are now going to have to be discussed as they move to their full business case. So it’s not just a question of opposing the merger, which we do oppose, because we think it will be less democratic. We think it will have a Board that would be less responsive to what local people want. But more than that, we’re concerned that it could lead to a loss of services.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Let me just ask you, we’ve heard in the last what twenty, twenty five minutes or so that the Government, the NHS and the doctors’ union the BMA have agreed terms that could bring an end to the junior doctors’ dispute. It appears there’ll be no more strikes in the meantime as a referendum is prepared of junior doctors. Your reaction to that?
JONATHAN DJANOGLY: Well it seems as though both sides have put a cold towel on their heads and come to common sense. What was amazing about it was that even a month ago I think they were 95% agreed on the terms. At that point I think I and probably most people felt that the strikes were disproportionate shall I say. So I’m very pleased to hear that they have now resolved the few outstanding issues, and that we can do that which we promised in our manifesto, the last Conservative manifesto, to deliver a full week NHS, which I think as time goes on and as people have longer working commitments the adaptability there is important.
CHRIS MANN: Jonathan Djanogly, thank you for joining us. Jonathan Djanogly there, the MP for Huntingdon.