Watchdog Wants Facts On Impact Of Cuts

Health chiefs face tough questions on their plans to “turn around” Cambridge’s ailing care services. They face a grilling from councillors on the impact of reducing work given to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, whether caring for people in the community rather than in hospital really will save cash, whether treatments deemed to be “low priority” will be offered, the risks of the financial situation at Hinchingbrooke, plans for the Brookfields site and what will happen if the Arthur Rank Hospice at Home service is no longer funded.

Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trusts announced their “turnaround plan” to slash £28million from NHS spending in June. Addenbrooke’s Hospital must save £15million by treating fewer people and working more effectively, wards will close at Brookfields Hospital and GPs have been told to refer fewer patients to hospital for treatment.

The Arthur Rank Hospice at Home service is also threatened, and the News has launched a £175,000 campaign to save it.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s watchdog, the health and adult social care scrutiny committee, immediately launched a working group to examine the impact of the cuts.

Now Sheila Bremner, turnaround director for the PCTs, has been asked to attend the committee’s meeting on Tuesday to tell them more about the effects of the plan.

Coun Geoffrey Heathcock, committee chairman, said: “If Addenbrooke’s is unwilling, or not able to find the money, or the cuts the PCT say they need to make, what happens then? Who, ultimately, holds the reins between services being reduced at Addenbrooke’s to fit the money the PCT is prepared to hand over on the one hand, and how you square that with patient choice on the other, when people are being told by the Government they can go where they want, when they want.

“We’re very concerned about the Brookfields and Arthur Rank situation. We will continue to press for a detailed timetable for this. What is the plan? We’ve only really been given a very sketchy outline timetable. What is the future for the whole of the Brookfields site? Are they going to cherry pick? Can they see it as raising money for the debt?

“There are a number of areas where we still haven’t got anything near the detail we want on behalf of the wider public.”