A health union has been rebuked for ‘wrongly’ claiming A&E at Hinchingbrooke Hospital is to be downgraded.
UNISON sent out a press release earlier today (Thursday) claiming that there were plans to withdraw trauma services at Hinchingbrooke and turn the hospital into an elective (advanced care) hub, forcing patients to travel miles to Peterborough or Addenbrooke’s for urgent treatment.
The union said this could “throw health services across north west Cambridgeshire into disarray” with patients forced to travel miles to Peterborough or Addenkbrooke’s for treatment.
It claimed this could “take Peterborough past breaking point,” while branch secretary and Labour Peterborough city councillor Sam Hemraj said it would leave Huntingdon patients “in danger” and would “send waves crashing across Cambridgeshire”.
The hospital is run by the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust - which also runs Peterborough and Stamford and Rutland hospitals - but UNISON said the alleged downgrading was being pushed through by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which allocates health spending in the county.
In a strong rejection of the claims, Dr Kanchan Rege, medical director at the trust, said: “It is wrong to suggest that the Emergency Department at Hinchingbrooke Hospital is under threat of being downgraded, or even closed, particularly as we are seeing a growth in demand for emergency care.
“Last month we saw 14.5 per cent more attendances than in August 2018, and we are proud of our emergency teams who have been maintaining a strong performance against the four-hour waiting time standard.
“We are currently working on proposals to improve the facilities within our Urgent Care services on the Hinchingbrooke site thanks to £25.5 million funding from the Department of Health. This includes expanding and improving both the Ambulatory Care Unit and Acute Assessment Unit, and making improvements to the Emergency Department to accommodate the increased activity we are experiencing.
“This work is due to take place in Spring 2020.
“The Department of Health funding also enables us to redevelop our operating theatres and create additional ward space on the Hinchingbrooke site. Work to develop a Full business case for this phase of the project is under way.
“I can confirm that we are working with our commissioners to look at how we best care for our trauma patients and those needing orthopaedic care across our sites in Huntingdon and Peterborough. This work is part of the local Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s vision for the future of care and was first outlined in its Fit For The Future document published in 2016.
“This work is in its early stages and if plans develop they will involve full consultation with members of the public.”
A CCG spokesperson said: “The CCG is committed to Hinchingbrooke Hospital and has been working with North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust on plans to increase the utilisation of the site. No substantial change is planned and any such plans would require full public consultation.”