Children’s ward is “better than ever”

Bedford Hospital South Wing.
Bedford Hospital South Wing.

Doctors at Bedford Hospital have defended the paediatric unit after the Mayor of Bedford called for a return to a ‘full service’.

Last week, Mayor Dave Hodgson hoped the reinstatement of trainee doctors to the department would pave the way for the return of all the services lost when they were removed in July, last year.

But consultant paediatrician Dr Andy Raffles and GP training programme director Dr Pete Wilkinson said children’s health “is about more than overnight stays in hospital”.

In a letter to The T&C they thanked the Mayor for his support but said his call for the return of ‘all the services which were stripped away’ could mislead families into ‘believing that we do not have a full children’s health service’.

“In fact,” they added: “The service we have now is far better and safer than previously.” It reflects best practice nationally and puts Bedford Hospital children’s services on a far firmer basis then many similar units.”

They continued: “The children’s service is now consultant provided and sick children are seen and assessed by one of eight paediatric consultants as soon as they arrive at the hospital. As a result, the number of children requiring admission to Riverbank Ward has plummeted to less than 10 per cent of those children seen.

“This is a better use of our resources and a happier outcome for children and their families. However, children in Bedford can stay overnight on Riverbank Ward - or longer if necessary.

“Within our current consultant team there are experts in a variety of paediatric specialties such as neurology and neonatology so more decisions and care can genuinely be provided locally than was the case before. Our links with larger hospitals, such as Addenbrookes, have also been strengthened so that world-class expertise is available to us.

“There are many ways for families to access children’s health services at Bedford Hospital. GPs can phone a consultant directly for advice or to arrange an immediate assessment for a child at the hospital. Children going to Bedford A&E can also see a paediatric consultant without delay whether they walk in or arrive by ambulance.

“The redevelopment of our local children’s health services is a tribute to the commitment and hard work of our nurses, doctors, managers and parents – and it is an example of the health service – not just hospital care – working together as it should.

“The General Medical Council’s (GMC) decision to return trainee posts to Bedford Hospital is a testament to this hard work. It also has consequences beyond children’s health. It means our next generation of family doctors can once again receive all their training locally and we now have excellent local services supported by high quality training.”