HOH represented in London

Members of Hands Off Hinchingbrooke joined over 200,000 campaigners from across the country to demonstrate against the brutal cuts and destructive changes being made by NHS Engand and the government.

Attending the march through the centre of London, Margaret Ridley – retired doctor and HOH member – was interviewed by THE REAL NEWS, an American online news agency. We are proud to have Margaret onboard!

The full news item is below.

We write to Jonathan Djanogly – Support our Campaign to Suspend Acquisition of Hinchingbrooke Hospital

The following letter has been sent to Huntingdon MP, Jonathan Djanogly


 The Hands off Hinchingbrooke Campaign Group is a non-political group of Huntingdonshire residents whose sole aim is to ensure that Hinchingbrooke Hospital remains a sustainable hospital and that clinical services promised in the Full Business Case for acquisition are kept.  Our secondary aim is pure and simple – to object to privatisation of the NHS.

The Hands off Hinchingbrooke Campaign Group have written to Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England to formally ask him to intervene and suspend the proposed acquisition of Hinchingbrooke Hospital by the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust.

In support of our case we have submitted the following points: –

  1. The appointed Board of Directors for the new trust has just been announced and is heavily weighted against the interests of Hinchingbrooke Hospital and residents of your constituency.  Of a new board of 16 Directors, 8 are non-executive and of those 8 only 3 are former members of the Hinchingbrooke Board. There are no Executive appointees from Hinchingbrooke.
  2. Cambridgeshire Commissioning Group have failed to disclose to public scrutiny the Estates and financial implications contained in the STP.  We believe that within those as yet undisclosed plans financial cuts will disproportionately impact on Hinchingbrooke Hospital and Huntingdonshire residents.
  3. Until such time as proper public consultation on the content of the STP is made we feel that this acquisition should not proceed.
  4. Peterborough City Hospital continues to be subject to a safety notice issued by Cambridgeshire fire and Rescue with structural repairs not expected to be completed before February 2019.
  5. This acquisition does not have the support of Huntingdonshire District Council.
  6. Until an equitable representation of Board Members is made this acquisition should not be allowed to proceed.

We now ask you to lend weight to our submission to NHS England to suspend acquisition until April 2019, or until the Safety repairs at Peterborough City Hospital are complete.

In addition, we urge you to contact the Leader of Cambridge County Council and seek a written response to the following:-

  1. Will you ask the Leader of the County Council to urgently convene a full council meeting to oppose acceptance of the STP for Footprint 21 – Cambridgeshire and Peterborough until all Appendices to the STP have been released into the public domain, and until such time as public consultation has been undertaken.
  2. Will the various related health and social care committees behave democratically regarding the STP and ensure all decisions are clearly, speedily and transparently communicated to the residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
  3. Ensure that that ‘patient outcomes’ will not suffer due to aspirational ‘efficiency savings’

Will you ensure; by due diligence; that Hinchingbrooke Hospital is not unfairly or unreasonably treated by the New Trust Board at Peterborough when savage savings have to be made and cuts to clinical services ensue.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital is under significant risk of downgrading.  We feel this will lead to the loss of Accident and Emergency Services to instead become an Urgent Care Centre.  We consider this is a significant emerging threat despite assurances from Lance McCarthy the CEO of Hinchingbrooke Hospital and Alan Burns, Hinchingbrooke Hospital Board Chair.

The NHS has a long and sorry history of failed mergers and acquisitions and the Board at both Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough have no fall back plan – Plan B should this acquisition start to fail.  We consider this to be a serious and significant dereliction of duty of care to both Hospital employees and the residents of Huntingdonshire.

Peterborough City Hospital is in itself significantly in debt.  Indeed it has sought and been approved a significant financial support package over many years to assist in the debt imposed by the failed PFI Contract which has been a crippling burden to this Hospital.  We fear that the acquisition of Hinchingbrooke will enable Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to acquire full financial control of Hinchingbrooke’s assets and utilise them in securing its own financial and clinical sustainability to the detriment of Hinchingbrooke Hospital and our residents.

While our group will continue our fight to support Hinchingbrooke we now ask you to step up your involvement in support of Hinchingbrooke Hospital; and ensure the statements made in both the Outline and Full Business case for merger; that assurances that clinical services would not be affected by the merger are kept.


As a campaign group we work tirelessly and diligently to keep you informed on developments at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and its forthcoming acquisition with Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust  from Apr 2017.

Our members sit in on many meetings at Hospital Boards, Health and Social Care Committee meetings and do so in their own time and at their own expense.  Our group is passionate about retaining all clinical services at Hinchingbrooke both now and post acquisition.  We ask awkward questions at these meetings, the sort of questions that they would rather not hear and find difficult to answer.

We also issues from time to time press releases or write articles in local press, and hold monthly committee meetings where we try to plan ahead about what we need to do going forward.

We also try to attend fetes, fayres etc with our stall and try to raise funds to pay for items such as hire of rooms or pitches at events.

We are as yet still a relatively small group but are growing both in numbers and in public awareness.  We could however do with more support, especially at a younger age group.  So if you like us are passionate about the preservation of our hospital get in touch with us either through our Website, Facebook or Twitter page.

We are not a political group but were are a friendly, welcoming group – so why not get in touch.


On the 15th December some of the Hands off Hinchingbrooke Campaign Group attended the Health Committee meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s.

The agreement by the County Council with NHS England to impose a seal of secrecy on the development of Sustainability Transformation Plans has shaken public confidence in the Local Authority.  As it is the final draft of the STP leaves many questions unanswered.

So we asked questions on your behalf.

Q1. Will you the Health Committee ensure that the full council and its various related Health and Social Care committees behave in a democratic way regarding the STP and ensure that all actions and decisions are clearly and speedily communicated to all residents in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Footprint 21 ( Cambridgeshire and Peterborough), and in a transparent way.

Q2. Would you please outline what measures and changes to the Constitution have been implemented to ensure that Cambs County Council; when considering the STP, ensure that ‘patient outcomes’ will not suffer in any way due to ‘efficiency savings’

Q3. Under this difficult situation where Local Authorities and NHS England are trying to integrate services would a new Code of Conduct providing advice and guidance for committee members be a constructive way forward, and where does localism and public consultation slot into all of this.



Hands off Hinchingbrooke Campaign Group had been encouraged that council’s up and down the country have rejected Sustainability Transformation Plans.  These include Oxford, Devon, Liverpool, Hampshire – Isle of Wight and others.   Various reasons have been given but the common theme is that the plans are unworkable, savings target are unachievable, lack of transparency or public consultation.

Birmingham GP leader Dr Robert Morley has dismissed their local STP as ” simply undeliverable”. Dr Mark Spencer of the New NHS Alliance has said many STP’s are ” a mile wide and an inch deep” with much of the content in a smokescreen and wishful thinking.

We strongly urge Cambridgeshire County Council not to accept the STP for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough without sight of the full appendices detailing the Estates footprint and the Financial footprint of where savings are to be made.

Why have the Estates and Financial details of these plans not been released to public scrutiny?  What is being hidden, and why has their been no public consultation on the content of the STP?  Surely the people of Cambridgeshire have a right to know where, when and how savings are to made and what the impact will be for them and their families.

Make no mistake about it – STP’s are about cuts in services, balancing the books and bridging the £22billion affordability gap by 2020.

Many service contracts have already been outsourced to Private – for Profit organisation with such companies as Virgin Care being awarded multi million £ contracts to deliver services in the North West.

Many of these plans will lead to loss of beds, loss of wards, loss of services, especially A&E and Maternity Units, and in some cases the wholesale closure of Hospitals.

Can this happen to Hinchingbrooke Hospital?  Will this impact on you?   No says the CEO’s of Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough.

Yes it can says Hands off Hinchingbrooke

Who do you believe? – well when the STP comes into force from April 2017 you will eventually find out – CAN’T WAIT – join our group



What Now For Hinchingbrooke Hospital?

Have the residents of Huntingdonshire been told the truth about the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital? – we at Hands off Hinchingbrooke don’t think so and this is why

Throughout the so called consultation process; both the Outline and Full Business Case for Hinchingbrooke Hospital being acquired by Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust it has been constantly maintained that Hinchingbrooke Hospital would be preserved as a District General Hospital.

We maintain that Hinchingbrooke Hospital will become an elective surgery hub for ‘low complexity’ orthopaedic surgery, with trauma cases going to Addenbrookes or Peterborough City Hospital.  We forecast that emergency and elective ENT surgery will eventually also go to one of the other county hospitals.  We believe that these changes will eventually obviate the need for medical staff to work ‘Out of Hours’ at Hinchingbrooke Hospital

We absolutely accept that the STP does not directly state that A&E will become an Urgent Care Centre, however in reality this is what we believe will happen relatively quickly.   Once a hospital loses its A&E Department the loss of other specialities tend to follow.

So once again are we Scaremongering?  Our campaign group do not believe we are.   The financial aspects of the STP have not been released despite requests.  This details where the axe will fall on service provision in the county between health and social care. Their has been no public consultation on the footprint of the STP but the facts remain:-

The Cambridgeshire Commissioning Group (CCG) have a reported deficit of £504m which they must save by 2020.  This equates to £125m for each year – effectively 11% of its budget.

Why no public engagement on where these savage savings are to fall?  Hinchingbrooke Board are aware of the savings to be made.  Indeed a number of Boards Members were actively engaged in assisting to produce the STP, so why are they not telling you – the people of Huntingdonshire?

We believe the reasons for their concealment is because they don’t want you to know.  So we issue this challenge to the CCG and Hinchingbrooke Hospital Board.  Prove us wrong by issuing the full Financial and Estates impact of the STP to the public in layman terms.

Then the public will judge

We urge Councils to reject STP for Cambridgeshire

The first 2 years of the Sustainability Transformation Plan for Cambridgeshire is due for ratification on 23 December with implementation from April 2017.  The financial and estate footprint for these plans have not been fully disclosed and there has been no public engagement on proposals.

These plans, if ratified by councils, will have a significant detrimental and long term effect on Health provision throughout Cambridgeshire and specifically for the residents of our three county towns and outlying villages.  They are purely financially driven, and we firmly believe are unworkable.

These plans are due to place even greater burdens on GP’s, Health Care Workers, Social Workers as well as our Ambulance Service and other Community Groups, who themselves are already struggling with current workloads.

We urge both Cambridgeshire County Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, Fenland Council and Peterborough City Council to formally reject these proposals.  We believe that the model of approach is aimed at disassembling the NHS as a publicly funded body in an attempt to privatise health based on American models of health and social care.

Instead we call upon all local councils to make representations to their respective MP’s to demand a fully funded NHS and to suspend with immediate effect all STP’s nationwide.


It has been reported that Lance McCarthy, the CEO of Hinchingbrooke Hospital has intimated that Hands off Hinchingbrooke Campaign Group are scaremongering.  Well – lets examine some of the facts.

In his public consultation Mr McCarthy has regularly stated that their will be no loss of services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and indeed expects some enhancements to some clinical services.

We understand some of the Senior Executives of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital Board have been involved with or contributed to the Sustainability Transformation Plan recently released by the Cambridgeshire Commissioning Group.

The Cambridgeshire Commissioning Group provide the footprint for the provision of Health and Social Care for the County within the confines of its budget restrictions.

The Cambridgeshire Commissioning Group is the most financially challenged commissioning Group in the whole of England and must find £504m of savings by 2020.  This equates to over £125m every year for the next 4 years, yet they have not released details of where these savings are to be made and so far have not consulted with the public over where savings are to be achieved.   Why?  What are they hiding from us?

The Cambridge Commissioning Group has not yet agreed it’s footprint as no decisions have apparently been made over the three Fenland centres.  How can you have a Plan and Budget when you as yet don’t know what you are doing?

Mr McCarthy is probably one of the few people fully aware of the impact of these savings which are savage and which will impact heavily on Health and Social Care provision throughout the County including Huntingdonshire.

So what does this mean for Hinchingbrooke Hospital?  It is highly likely that A&E will be rebranded as an Urgent Care Centre (UCC).  This may in turn result in Hinchingbrooke losing its status as a District General Hospital.

So residents of Huntingdonshire – Do you think we are scaremongering?; or merely trying to bring you facts as they become known, or our predictions/opinions on how we see Hinchingbrooke Hospital in the Future.

Our sole aim is to fight to retain services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital as outlined in the Full Business Case, and to inform you our residents if they are not.


Hunts DC vote not to support the Hinchingbrooke hospital takeover!

We are delighted to report that your local councillors voted against this proposal and wrote the attached letter to the Chairman of Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust, Alan Burns.

Letter to Mr Burns HDC-response-to-the-merger-proposal

And here are details of the discussion that preceded this:




Members were informed that following the consideration of Full Business Case for the merger of the Trusts running Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals by the Cabinet at its meeting on 20th October 2016, the Panel had been asked to convene a Task and Finish Group to undertake a critical analysis of the Full Business Case, in order to formulate a proposal to the Cabinet as to whether the Council should support the Merger and its suggested response.

The Chairman proposed, and the Panel agreed, that a Task and Finish Group would not be convened and that Members would draw conclusions and send a draft letter to the Chairman of the Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust. The Chairman added that the Panel had three options: support the merger (either fully or reluctantly), do not support the merger or do not support the merger but register no objections.

The Chairman opened the debate by stating that following the special meeting on 12th October 2016, he could not support the merger but he could not object to it either as there is no other plan on the table.

One Member suggested that the Council should reject the merger as the Trusts do not have an alternative in the scenario that the merger fails. In addition, the Chief Executive of Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust, Lance McCarthy, did not commit to the preservation of services at the Hinchingbrooke site.

A Member stated that they believe the Panel should not be dealing with the issue as a Council response should come from the Cabinet and signed by the Executive Leader of the Council. The Executive Councillor for Environment, Street Scene and Operations responded that the Cabinet believes that the Panel should take ownership of the issue as they had heard from Lance McCarthy twice and had received the evidence to make a judgement.

 The point was raised that Members were informed that the merger is to overcome financial difficulties as well as making the Trust a more attractive proposition for consultants when recruiting. It was suggested that senior staff could be appointed through a staff sharing arrangement and the contract written in a way that would guarantee the consultant hours at Hinchingbrooke. In regards to the finances the income from health campus would go to the merged Trust and Hinchingbrooke would not fully benefit from the income.

 The Panel noted that the merged Trust’s Council of Governors would have a ‘greater influence’ from the north of the area. The Panel were uncomfortable with the idea that the interests of Hinchingbrooke could be overlooked as there is a potential for the north to ‘outvote’ Huntingdonshire. Members fear that this would affect all residents but particularly those who depend on Hinchingbrooke.

A Member suggested that the Panel should not make decisions on the clinical sustainability of Hinchingbrooke but focus on the governance arrangements. The Member added that the Council shouldn’t support the acquisition without the governance of Hinchingbrooke being protected. The Panel,


1)      that the acquisition cannot be supported by Huntingdonshire District Council due to the absence of sufficient balance in the governance arrangements in protecting the interests of the residents of Huntingdonshire, and

2)      that a letter is written to the Chairman of Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust, Alan Burns, explaining why the Council cannot support the acquisition and explain other concerns expressed by the Panel.