Everybody loves a carnival…

We were delighted to be invited to host a stall at Saturday’s Huntingdon Carnival on the 11th August. Meeting members of the public and asking their opinions about local changes to the NHS led to some unexpected but very welcome conversations. Many who came to the stall were staff from Hinchingbrooke who spoke of their first-hand experience of the changes and their fears for the future of their jobs.

The team at the Carnival

Jane Howell, campaigner felt the day was very worthwhile: “We were surprised to have so many people coming to the stall asking questions about our work and especially what was happening at Hinchingbrooke now that it is part of Peterborough City Hospital. It was a wonderful day and there is no doubt in our minds that there is still a great love and respect for our local hospital. The response we had made it clear to us that our campaign must continue to monitor all the local vital services such as A&E, maternity and surgical departments”

Huntingdon Mayor Sarah Gifford, after talking to members, agreed to a photograph to support the group – with a passing friendly Godmanchester Lion who got in the picture!


Care Rooms Ltd raise their heads once more

The Health Service Journal has made it known that a  private company – Care Rooms Ltd – have approached Cambridgeshire County Council with their money making scheme which they claim will “help the NHS”. The service known by many clinicians and campaigners alike as Care B’n’B is a rent-a-room scheme for (medically fit wahtever that means) patients leaving hospital after an operation.

The HSJ revealed that the company were forced to abort their first trial in Essex last year after patients and social care directors raised safeguarding concerns about care being provided by non-NHS trained non-care professionals. But in true entrepreneurial spirit the company have not been deterred and are ready to launch the scheme again… you know the old saying…

After talking to campaigners this week at Southend Save Our A&E we know that the trial scheme was disgraced by professionals up and down the country and was abandoned within one week of being announced. So now it appears in Cambridgeshire and the company are trying their luck with the local authority rather than the NHS. They have adapted the scheme so it is now merely a room for rent with no medical/clinical care required by the host – hence even more justification for the nickname Care B’n’B.

We’re looking deeper into the implications of the scheme and why the county council are, according to Anna Bailey – Chair of Adults Committee, setting up a “working group” to look at piloting the scheme. We’re grateful to the Hunts Post for listening to concerns and successfully raising alarm bells about this scheme which claims to provide choice (that word) but is clearly nothing more than a private company taking full advantage of a business opportunity  created on the landscape of a delberately under-funded NHS and social care system that is now ripe for more private company control. Read the full online article here

Paul Gaudin the CEO of Care Rooms Ltd. (a former bagel millionaire) wrote a lovely letter responding to questions being asked by us, the Hunts Post and HSJ.

Here it is. See what you think.

Full Support on hand for hosts

Last week’s front page article about CareRooms raised some important questions which I thought would be helpful to answer. The service is not funded by the NHS or the local authority. We have privately funded the project with the aim of providing choice to patients, families, the NHS and health and social care. We are therefore very careful to ensure that we have covered the risks, as much as possible.

Having personally experienced the pressures on our NHS and social care teams, I wanted to do something to try to help our communities to help their NHS to help them.

Hosts can be lonely, socially isolated people who’ve lost purpose and want to get involved in their communities and to earn some much needed income. They provide a short stay, safe room for low risk, medically fit patients (not those with dementia). This helps them whilst their home is modified or a care package is set up. Other uses are for those who are vulnerable after a fall at home or need some respite care.

Each host is carefully selected to be just the right person for the job. CareRooms provide the safeguarding system and training and we are on hand locally to help if there’s a problem.

We are using the latest patient monitoring technology to minimise the risk of ill health or in the unfortunate case of a sudden health issue or death, then we may well know before the host does and we have full procedures to support the family and to protect the host.

We are looking for local Cambridgeshire hosts to help their communities by unlocking the potential of their spare rooms.

Paul Gaudin,
Founder of CareRooms.com

We’ll be responding very soon.




November’s Meeting

An energetic and animated meeting this month. Thanks to everyone who came along. Lots of updates from those who attended the Health Campaigns Together conference in London on Sat. 4th Nov. A one-day conference with campaigners travelling from as far afield as Devon and Cumbria to share news, information and ideas for the winter ahead. Members felt it was a positive day and well worth attending.

Stories and information from other groups provided yet more proof of the need to remain vigilant in watching our local services.

HoH Member Jane Howell found the day inspiring. ” Hearing other campaigners’ talk about the mergers, downgrades they had seen in their areas,  leading to full loss of some services helped me to understand that we’re right to be worried in Huntingdon. We are still very concerned about the future of Hinchingbrooke as a hospital with full 24hr Blue-light A&E Department.”

Fellow campaigner Margaret Ridley agreed: “We do have to ask the question. Surely with so many new towns popping up in the Huntingdon region and the population set to grow – now is not the time to be cutting NHS services at Hinchingbrooke. Is it?”

If you are worried too write to the County Council Health Board. Find out what they are doing about protecting our hospitals. You could even join members attending the meetings

The link to meeting info: Health & Wellbeing Board Meetings


Autumn 2017 & HOH are still on the case

At their first Auutmn meeting members of Hands Off Hinchingbrooke voted unanimously to continue monitoring the situation not only in Huntingdon but across the county as the cuts and closures begin to impact this winter.

Having attended Clinical Commissioning Group meetings, Health Scrutiny Committee and various other meetings over the summer, the group are under no illusion that services will be changed as they have been in other areas of East Anglia and nationwide.

The campaigners have decided it’s their duty to talk to local councils, MPs and NHS staff to find out more about the status of the 24 A&E Dept and changes to the entire hospital if it is downgraded.

Particular concerns were

  • the lack of mental health facilities in Huntingdonshire even though Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group say that mental health is a priority
  • little or no evidence of more community nursing teams that are supposed to be created for the “care closer to home” policy outlined in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) proposals

and, perhaps most worrying of all, is that the final STP, complete with details of cuts, changes to wards and workforce, still has not been published for the public. Why not?

Hands Off Hinchingbrooke are making direct enquiries to find out more and are urging the public to contact them if they experience changes to services at Hinchingbrooke and across the region.

Secretary, Lorna Mansbridge said: “The campaign team decided we would continue to fight to save NHS services for Huntingdonshire. Everything is subject to the county wide STP and also instructions from NHS England. We know from other campaigners around the country that NHS England wants to shrink services and our county will not be allowed to have 3 blue-light A&E departments. We have at least three new towns being built in the region and the idea of closing or reducing emergency services is absurd, not to say dangerous.”

Hands Off Hinchingbrooke members all agreed that it was very likely that Cambridgeshire would begin to see alarming changes this autumn and winter as NHS England deadlines to finalise hospital reconfigurations and changes to health service structures came closer.

Currently NHSE is demanding that the STP find £504million in what it calls “efficiency savings” and what Hands Off Hinchingbrooke call “excessive cuts”.

For more information about the status of the NHS in Cambridgeshire contact:

Cambs and Pboro CCG

Cambs County Council Health Board

Cambridgeshire Combined Authority

To make your views known contact Healthwatch


September Meeting

Hands off Hinchingbrooke are looking forward to their first Autumn meeting at the Community Church in Huntingdon on Wednesday Sept 13th at 7pm.

Earlier this year the group asked the question about the Hinchingbrooke/Peterborough merger:  “Is it a merger or an acquisition?”. It is clear that it is a reconfiguration that will have an affect. It has been a summer of reflection and talking to local people and NHS Staff about the changes taking place not only at Hinchingbrooke but across the county as a whole.

Members have also been in touch with campaigners across the country through Health Campaigns Together and believe that this winter will see unprecedented cuts and restrictions to services that will affect the Huntingdon Community directly and also those living in the more rural areas of Cambridgeshire.

For more information about the meeting contact the group by email.

Merger or Takeover?

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