Crisis no excuse to downgrade, says Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson

Mayor Dave Hodgson.
Mayor Dave Hodgson.

Since the removal of almost all children’s hospital services from Bedford last year, I have warned that the crisis must not be used by NHS commissioners to pursue the permanent downgrading of Bedford Hospital.

This is exactly what has happened, however. Newly-published proposals would make the loss of key emergency services inevitable.

Bedford Hospital has been assessed as a good hospital by the health regulator CQC, and ranks highly at national level. It serves a growing borough. Yet under these plans patients will have to travel to access vital emergency services at often inferior hospitals far from home. They will simply shunt costs from the NHS onto patients and their families, as well as causing extra strain at the worst possible times.

When illness strikes or major events such as the birth of a child occur, people want to be close to their support networks of family and friends. We all know that for specialist services patients will need to go elsewhere, but these unacceptable proposals include the removal of essential, basic services such as full A & E and maternity.

Like past, discredited reviews, this process has arrived at the same blunt conclusion of downgrading our hospital, regardless of the good quality of current services, the growing population or patients’ ability to travel to and from remote hospitals.

This review takes to £5.4 million the amount spent on reviews seeking to downgrade Bedford Hospital.

That money should have been invested in front line services, making them more sustainable. Instead, rather than looking to change the way services are delivered, they are crudely seeking to rip vital services out from our community.

I call on everyone who cares about Bedford Hospital to come together and send the message loud and clear that as a community we will fight this every step of the way.