Bedford mums could have to travel 20 miles to give birth

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Hundreds of Bedford mums-to-be face having to travel 20 miles to Milton Keynes to give birth to their babies.

An ongoing healthcare review between Bedford and MK hospitals has shown there is a chance that one hospital will forgo its obstetrics service.

And councillors predict that Bedford, as the smaller hospital, would be the one to lose out.

The Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review is considering three ‘models’ for integrated services .

Until now fears have been focused mainly on Accident and Emergency Services, with one hospital likely to lose its full A&E facility.

But councillors at a recent meeting of the health overview committee questioned Beds Clinical Commissioning Group officer Matthew Tait, specifically over maternity provision.

Mr Tait admitted only two of the three models under consideration provided for obstetrics units across the two areas. This means the hospital losing its obstetricians could have a smaller maternity unit led only by midwives.

And any mums experiencing problems would need to be transported 20 miles for specialist help.

Bedford Borough councillor Louise Jackson, who is executive member for public health, said: “Options in this review that would leave Bedford Hospital with anything less than a full obstetric provision are not acceptable to me, nor to the members of the council who have unanimously resolved to fight any downgrade of Bedford Hospital.

“I’ve little doubt proposals to reduce maternity provision would not be acceptable to the residents of Bedford Borough,” she added.

Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson, who last week blasted the £4.5million healthcare review for being over budget and behind schedule, said: “This review has for some time been considering options that would see the obstetrics department at Bedford or Milton Keynes Hospital be downgraded, even though both of the towns are set to grow.

“This is completely unacceptable. This review has seen numerous delays, spiralling costs and continues to cause uncertainty about the future of our local Hospitals.”

A Beds CCG spokesman said: “Clinicians are currently working extensively through three potential hospital models for Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes and are considering which services need to be included to ensure any potential hospital model is clinically and financially viable and has clinical support.

“In terms of maternity services, clinicians are currently considering a range of options, including consultant obstetric units and local midwife-led units, across both sites. As part of this work, clinicians are looking to obtain a better understanding of where mothers to be may choose to have their babies. No decisions have been made as yet but, under any scenario, support for home births, neonatal and post-natal care would continue to be provided locally.”