‘We’re watching you’: Warning to health chiefs as search begins for new outpatient provider at North Cambs Hospital

North Cambs Hospital, Wisbech.

North Cambs Hospital, Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

Residents and councillors in Wisbech have warned health bosses “we’re watching you” amid fears that services at the North Cambs Hospital could be lost.

The warning comes after the future provision of outpatients’ services at the North Cambs as well as at Doddington and Ely hospitals was left in limbo following a decision by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (CCS) to end their contract next year.

The trust, which currently provides outpatients at North Cambs, Doddington and the Princess of Wales Hospitals as well as endoscopy, bladder scanning and phlebotomy at Wisbech and dermatology at Peterborough City Care Centre, has decided it is no long the right organisation to provide these services.

The announcement caused major concern, particularly in Wisbech, that these services could be lost and prompted calls for a “save our hospital” campaign on social media.

However, the Cambridge and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for organising provision of these services promised they will continue from April 2016 and are working to find a suitable alternative provider.

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Wisbech Councillor Virginia Bucknor feels it is too soon to launch a campaign because of the CCG’s promise but said there is a need to keep the pressure on the CCG to ensure they do not change their minds.

“We need to make it clear we are watching them, and that we are ready to fight to save these services if they change their minds,” she said.

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Fellow Wisbech Councillors Alan Ley and Paul Clapp both met with senior managers at North Cambs Hospital after all the “scare mongering” on social media.

Cllr Clapp said: “We feel that at this time the hospital is in safe hands and will not be closing its doors to the people of Wisbech anytime soon. They are tailoring the services that are provided to the needs of local people. I hope that this puts to bed any scare mongering that has come about and in fact the hospital will flourish under the new winners of contracts that were put out to tender.”

Local MP Steve Barclay met with CCG chairman Maureen Donnelly recently to discuss the issue and said: “Being able to access clinics closer to home is vital for residents in this area where public transport is not always available especially with the long distances to hospitals. Mrs Donnelly has issued assurances that we will not lose out when the CCS ends its provision next year but I urge her to come up with an alternative provider as quickly as possible.”

A spokesman for the CCG said: “There will not be a loss of out-patient or other services at any of the three community hospitals concerned. The CCG is committed to the ongoing provision and development of local out-patient services and will be working to make sure alternative arrangements for these services are in place and to ensure a safe and smooth transition of provider.

“We see this as an opportunity to identify how we can further develop local services. The distances that local people have to travel to an acute hospital make it even more important that wherever possible we can offer more accessible services locally.

“We have written to all local GPs, and meetings are beginning with practice patient group representatives, to ask how they think patients and the public could be best involved in this work.”

A proposal on alternative provision will go to the CCG’s governing body in early July.

If anyone has any concerns or questions they can contact the CCG’s Patient Experience Team on 0800 2792535 or 01223 725588.

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