10:24 Friday 2nd May 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[A]NDIE HARPER: The planned move of Papworth Hospital to the Addenbrookes site was given the final approval yesterday, after over a decade of planning and deliberation. The plans looked uncertain earlier this year when it was proposed that it be moved to Peterborough City Hospital site instead. Peterborough’s MP Stewart Jackson gave his views on the move to the Bigger Breakfast Show.
STEWART JACKSON: I generally support the proposals, and I can understand why people like the local MP and others in the South of the county are very pleased with it. My problem comes back to under-utilisation of the facilities at Peterborough, particularly the fourth floor of Peterborough City Hospital. How are we going to continue to scrub our face financially and keep clinical services going at Peterborough City Hospital? That’s an ongoing issue which the Department of Health and the Treasury obviously need to keep addressing.
ANDIE HARPER: But what does this move mean for people living near the Hospital now? Geoff Heathcock, the former Cambridgeshire county councillor lives in the area, and he’s on the line. Geoff, good morning to you.
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Good morning to you Andie.
ANDIE HARPER: So, most people would agree that Papworth needed updating, if not completely rebuilding. There were a choice of sites, but Addenbrookes it is, as we all suspected when we first talked about it eleven years ago. What about the area? What impact is this going to have?
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Well it will inevitably push even more traffic into an area which is already heaving with vehicles, more or less throughout the whole of the working day. And it’s fairly busy, even at weekends. So I think, not in any sense to be a Nimby, I don’t want to sound like a Nimby, but there is a very real issue about how even more people, be they staff or be they patients coming to the new Papworth Mk II as I would describe it, in due course how that will impact on the area. And my other two concerns which perhaps there hasn’t been too much mention about this morning is the Government is yet again going down the PFI route, which I find staggering, when there’s been so much difficulty next door at the Norfolk and Norwich, and indeed in Peterborough. The Select Committee, the Public Accounts Committee on more than one occasion has questioned over the years under different political party chairmanships, so it’s completely neutral, that PFI is a very very expensive way of trying to provide an important public facility like this. And finally, and perhaps the crucial one as far as the community of Papworth is concerned, this will take the heart of the Papworth community out. And it begs the very serious question I would have thought, beyond the fact that people have got to leave Papworth in terms of their workplace, but also where plenty of them have lived for a long time, to come to Cambridge to work. That’s going to cause significant difficulties for them. And what then is going to be left as the heart of the Papworth community ongoing, once that hospital closes?
ANDY HARPER: You mentioned PFI. Is your concern that it might not work financially? Is that why you ..
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Well, not only that it won’t work, because it’s a very expensive mortgage, if one puts it in very layman’s terms, for providing a facility which is £165 million, (which) is the headline figure; but basically means that the provider of that facility rents back to the NHS the use of that facility from now until eternity, at significant rates of interest of return, which obviously becomes very much a commercial operation. You’re then likely to see some of the difficulties which the Peterborough hospital and indeed Norfolk and Norwich have got into on basically paying that bill. And that will inevitably at some point bring into question the cost of services provided at the facility, and what other services within health end up then having to be trimmed in order to make the whole thing a viable proposition. So there are still, for me .. Clinically I can see all the arguments, and who wouldn’t not agree with that in Cambridge? That is Cambridge. But in terms of the financial costs, the human costs for people having to get there, both to work and to visit loved ones etcetera. And the impact then on the Cambridge infrastructure, there is still far too little detail. And I hope as things now do pan out, we will actually see more of that detail, so that the wider public can make a reasonable judgment on whether this really is as good as it’s being painted.
ANDIE HARPER: I take your point about the effect on the community at Papworth. it is Papworth really, although it has expanded hugely in the last few years. But people planning medical provision will basically say well that really is no concern of ours. We have to do what is right for the hospital, and for the patients and staff who work there. So the community at Papworth won’t be a consideration, will it?
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: I beg to differ Andie. I think it ought to be a consideration. Yes I can understand that as far as the NHS is concerned, they’ve been presented with virtually a fait accompli, that the facilities at Papworth inevitably have got very cramped, and some would say dated. That I understand. But in terms of the fact that we are going to be talking about people’s livelihoods, the people who have lived and built up Papworth over the years, that will all be disrupted. You cannot take out what is a major public facility like a hospital. This is not just some little clinic up the end of a field. This is a major health facility. You cannot take it out of a community the size of Papworth and not be concerned about the impact that’s going to have on what is left. And I would guess, I might be running ahead a bit here, but I would guess there is already at least one if not two developers eyeing up that site and thinking ooh, jolly jolly good. We can rub our hands and plonk another umpteen hundred houses in there, not necessarily with the facilities that they would actually need in order to be a viable community.
ANDIE HARPER: Meantime, finally, can we look forward to gridlock in the community that you used to serve?
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Well I’m afraid that it will be gridlock-plus Andie. We’ve already got gridlock, and there’s nothing in the immediate future, meaning five years or even ten years, that suggests that anything is going to be done in any great form, beyond bringing in possibly additional roads network within the hospital site., that won’t actually deal with the issues of all the queuing that goes on morning and evening, to get on and off this what is now a massive city of its own. And that is something that the Government and the County Council have got to address and address very seriously before the building actually starts for the new Papworth facility.
ANDIE HARPER: Geoff, as ever, good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us.
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Pleasure.
ANDIE HARPER: Cheers. That’s Geoff Heathcock, resident of the area adjacent to Addenbrookes Hospital and a former Cambridgeshire county councillor of course.