In March it was reported in the Health Service Journel that Monitor, the NHS Improvement organisation, which is responsible for overseeing NHS Foundation and trusts and holding providers to account and where necessary intervening, is pushing hard for the merger between Hinchingbrooke Hospital NHS Trust and Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust.
The “merger” between both hospitals is set to be completed by 1 April, 2017, but Hands Off Hinchingbrooke has grave concerns for the potential merger, and not just the timeframe in which the merger would be implemented from.
As the merger is being rushed this could have acrimonious consequences not just for Hinchingbrooke Hospital but also Peterborough Hospital. The HSJ also reported that a senior source which is familiar to negotiations claimed Monitor desperately wants the trusts to merge “as soon as possible”.
Plans for the merger have been on the table since March 2016 and both boards have pressed ahead, even though there has been opposition from Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly and Hands Off Hinchingbrooke as it could see services lost.
Hinchingbrooke has always been questioned on the viability of the hospital as it sits within a small catchment area – where as, Peterborough has had large amount of debts due to the Private Finance Inicitive deal which lead to the new hospital being built in Peterborough.
Let’s not forget though, the NHS hasn’t had a great number of mergers over the years. Their has been mergers where everyone buys into it and these have been very successful, but as the merger between both hospitals is being rushed through by Monitor, it could have disastrous consequences.
The source also told HSJ “If the trusts looked to merger at a slower pace, say over two to three years, they could then ensure thinks like all the back office and IT systems were integrated properly, and it could be done in a way that protect patient.”
From that claim, it begs the question that we have been asking ourselves, they’re not protecting patients.
In January plans had been announced in a joint statement by both CEO’s that both hospitals have started work by a Memorandum of Understanding, which only came to the public domain after Huntingdon MP, Jonathan Djanogly forced both boards to release the MoU.
Another question then arises. Why keep the MoU secret from the public? What are they hiding? Where there deals going on behind closed doors?
Daniel Laycock, Secretary for Hands off Hinchingbrooke asked Lance McCarthy at the Special Meeting, Overview and Scrutiny (Communities and Environment) on Tuesday 28th June in Huntingdon, “Why was the MoU kept from the public domain, until Jonathan Djanogly forced you to release it into the public domain” but Mr McCarthy only replied that there was a MoU in the public domain.
Accusations had followed from Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, that key services such as accident and emergency would be lost at the district general hospital as Peterborough is palling to take over Hinchingbrooke.
Hinchingbrooke chair Alan Burns, told HSJ in January that he was “relatively agnostic” about “merging” with Peterborough, providing that business case stacked up on “clinical ground and benefits to patients” as well as financial ground.
Monitor nor the trust responded directly to questions asked by HSJ that the regulator was pushing for Hinchingbroooke and Peterborough hospitals to merge.
A Monitor spokesperson claimed to HSJ back in March: ” We are aware that Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke hospitals are exploring options for increased collaboration between their organisations for the benefits of patient.
“We want people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to receive quality care on a sustainable basis, and stand ready to support all providers in the area to make this happen”