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Hinchingbrooke – confidence is the key says MP

1st April 2010

Jonathan Djanogly, the MP for the Huntingdon constituency, commented on the importance of supporting Hinchingbrooke hospital during testing times.

At the moment Hinchingbrooke is running a “next steps” tendering process for its management. Bidders are being asked to include proposals for repayment of the historic £40million debt that the NHS insists the hospital must repay to the NHS.

A number of local people have complained that this historic debt should be ignored whilst others want the franchising proposals to be ended altogether.

Furthermore, over recent weeks the hospital has had to close wards due to outbreaks of infection and this has led to friends and relatives being denied access to patients – which can be very stressful.

Jonathan Djanogly has regular meetings with the hospital and has also recently met with the CEO and Chairman of NHS Cambridgeshire (the PCT) to discuss these issues.

Mr Djanogly said:

‘It is clearly vital that infection control is prioritised as a key concern to public safety and I have made this clear to Health Service Managers.

‘We can debate whether the tender process could have been organised better. However it was generally agreed that the existing Trust was top heavy and unsustainable given the size of the hospital. I can certainly agree that taxpayers money in the NHS should be prioritised towards patients’ care rather than excessive bureaucracy.

‘We have been aware of the £40million deficit for some years now and I did argue with the NHS that it should be waived or, at least, partially waved considering that a large proportion of it was due to an accounting error. This was a particularly important issue at the time that I was campaigning to save the hospital and, following the success of that campaign, to retain services such as the maternity ward.

‘However, the NHS were not prepared to waive the £40million and have therefore insisted that it forms part of the bid proposal for the hospital management.

‘I have always said that I had doubts as to whether any bid could realistically cover the £40million deficit, but it is not for me to ultimately say what the bidders may or may not come up with. That is something we will see as part of the process.

‘I am however wary of placing too strong an emphasis of the franchise process being called a privatisation. This is because although the incoming management team may be private sector, the assets of the hospital and the staff will all remain within the NHS. Of course, it will be vital that have confidence in the operational abilities of the incoming management. However, I do also have concerns at the NHS ability to manage the franchise – this will need to be kept under review.

‘But it is also important that we understand that, like in any organisation, confidence is vital not just for patients, but also for the loyal and hardworking staff of the hospital. This is not only key for retention of staff but also for future recruitment. The tender process is of course an unsettling period for staff given the different possible outcomes. This makes it vital that the timetable is strictly adhered to – delays could be very damaging.

‘I have also told NHS Cambs that at the next stage of bidding (three tenders remain) there should be maximum transparency of the contents of bids to local people, so that they get the opportunity to be engaged with the choices involved in the running of their local hospital.

‘This is a testing time for Hinchingbrooke so, despite the importance of dealing with these issues, let us all get behind our valued local hospital and not let constructive debate become damaging sniping.’


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