The Mayor of Bedford’s monthly column for BedfordToday and the Times & Citizen
The Healthier Together programme has been reviewing healthcare services across five hospitals in our area. Its proposals place our local hospital under serious threat of being downgraded, with key services reduced drastically.
We all have experience of Bedford Hospital. Under these plans, travelling considerable distances for treatment or to support friends and relatives would become far more common, as crucial services such as A&E and maternity services are likely to be reduced here in Bedford.
The removal of an obstetric-led maternity service, for example, would mean many more children having to be born away from Bedford, bringing extra strain for new parents.
Two ‘models’ for hospital services across the South East Midlands have been selected for consideration under the review, both of which will see two of the five hospitals severely downgraded. Bedford Hospital is under such serious threat because it is one of the two smallest hospitals in the group, which also includes Kettering, Northampton, Milton Keynes and Luton & Dunstable.
I’m all for hospitals working together and reviewing the way services are provided. But quite frankly these plans at present boil down to little more than sacrificing services at two hospitals, possibly including Bedford, in order to protect a comprehensive range at another three. And that’s just not acceptable.
Public consultation on proposals is to come, but if we are asked to simply choose between two options which would both see Bedford Hospital severely downgraded, it will be too late. We need to show as a community that we value Bedford Hospital and local services. Please sign the petition at www.savebedfordhospital.org.uk and join the fight to save Bedford hospital as we know it.