Monday, February 19, 2007

The Consultation

The PCT public Consultation is upon us but it will be met with very mixed opinions no doubt. When the SHA implied that Hinchingbrooke Hospital could close or be downgraded, who would have thought we would be where we are now?

The Governments reconfiguration plans for the NHS suggested that there were 77 Trusts on their hit list and one was Hinchingbrooke, now because of that I chose to start a petition and following another idea I organised a well supported March through Huntingdon and onto the hospital , which gained great coverage, both locally and nationally.

Ultimately 55,000 plus signed the petition so how can a government who have preached the mantra of Patient Choice and a Patient led format, ignore the choice of those who marched and signed the petition to keep Hinchingbrooke open, fully funded and functional?

We need to consider whether the hospital closure or downgrading is for the reasons of quality and safety or merely cost and this is an area that is causing most problems for the Government and the SHA, for even though the aim is to transfer more Care into the Community, hospital attendances are rising year on year.

This is because of certain factors, one being that patients find it more difficult to access their G.P out of hours so choose to visit their local A&E where they can be seen within 4 hours.
Some G.P's are gaining special interests to reduce the hospital outpatient referrals and perform procedures in the primary care setting and with their new skills are uncovering more illnesses that require hospital visits.
Also there is an ageing population that is consuming bucket loads of blood pressure tablets and satins and they have other incurable conditions such as arthritis and dementia that also require expert care.

With Cambridgeshire being so rural and having heavily congested roads and a very poor public transport infrastructure then why should we consider downsizing, downgrading, losing services or closing this asset to the community?

One factor we should all be wary of in the next few years will be the proposed and, what will become financially burdened, PFI hospital in Peterborough, as they will be looking to cannibalise services from the likes of Hinchingbrooke to survive.

We might win a kind of reprieve this time but for how long, the fight will and needs to go on to help maintain a fully functional and accessible NHS for us all from primary care upwards and ALL sections of the NHS need to work TOGETHER, not fight for each others business as the government want them to do.

The Primary and Secondary Health care sectors need to form very close ties and cement long term agreements to enable quality healthcare for Cambridgeshire and its people