Future of key Bedford Hospital services still uncertain

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Health bosses still couldn’t say if key services will remain at Bedford Hospital when they came under scrutiny this week.

The leading figures behind a major health review spoke to councillors from across Bedford, Central Beds, Luton, and Milton Keynes at Borough Hall on Monday.

But they could not answer the key question of which hospitals will retain A&E, maternity and paediatrics services – despite admitting that this is a key concern for patients.

MK Hospital chief executive Joe Harrison told councillors: “We’ve spoken to our clinicians and to patients to determine what they think are the best models.

“We’ve then looked at affordability.

“None of us have said at this stage ‘We’re going to do this’. But we all want three vibrant sites.”

Healthcare across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes is being reviewed as part of a strategic transformation plan (BLMKSTP).

The fate of services at all three hospitals have been linked under the scheme, but health bosses have consistently failed to offer reassurances about what this will mean for areas such as A&E, maternity and paediatrics.

Appearing before councillors were Bedford Hospital medical director Paul Tisi, MK Hospital chief executive Joe Harrison, Jane Meggitt from the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and Luton & Dunstable Hospital’s Cathy Jones who is also programme director for the secondary care section of the STP.

Mrs Meggitt stressed the financial pressures that the area’s health system is under.

She said: “There’s a financial gap. At the moment it’s £1.3million. That will get to £1.67million by 2021.”

And the health bosses were also urged to remember how concerned people are about the prospect of longer journeys to receive hospital care.

Joe Harrison added: “There are some fantastic services across each of the three sites, for services where people are travelling to Oxford, Cambridge or London.

“We want to open this up across the region so that people can come, for example, from Milton Keynes to Bedford.”

What next for A&E? Maternity? Paediatrics? We still don’t know...