Emergency ambulances will now take children to Bedford’s A&E department

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Ambulances responding to 999 calls can now take children straight to Bedford Hospital’s A&E department instead of a neighbouring hospital.

The return of ambulances was approved at a meeting between health partners last night (Tuesday, January 21) and the ambulance service has been given the go-ahead by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to take children to Bedford Hospital from tomorrow (Thursday, January 23).

The latest announcement by the trust follows the return of other services in December, which included 24-hour opening of the Riverbank Children’s Unit and open access care for children with complex or long-term conditions.

It now means all children’s services, other than longer inpatient stays, have returned to Bedford Hospital.

Until now, ambulances responding to 999 calls have been taking children to the nearest hospital – mainly Milton Keynes and the Luton and Dunstable. Following the latest announcement all children can now come to Bedford Hospital if they need urgent or emergency care – whether following a 999 call, a visit to a GP or via open access services arrangements.

Children arriving at the hospital by ambulance or by walking in will be assessed in the A&E department. They will then be treated and discharged home or transferred to the Riverbank Children’s Unit for ongoing assessment and care.

If it is anticipated that a child will need more than an overnight stay for ongoing treatment they will be considered for transfer to a neighbouring paediatric unit.

Lead Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Andy Raffles, said: “This announcement will be welcome news for local families, whose children can now be cared for at Bedford Hospital whether they dial 999, turn up to A&E or visit their GP.

“This will help take away some of the anxiety of not knowing where their child might be taken if they needed to dial 999 and means even more care can be delivered locally again, with less travelling for families.

“The move also reflects the confidence of our commissioners that we are able to provide safe, high quality and modern paeditatric services for local children.”

Stephen Conroy, Chief Executive for Bedford Hospital, said: “I am delighted that we are once again in the position of announcing the return of more services to Bedford Hospital and I am sure local families will be too.

“The return to date of virtually all our children’s services has been made possible thanks to the passion and commitment shown by our paediatrics team, who have redesigned and improved our services based on best practice. Our focus now is to build on this progress and to continue to develop high quality and sustainable children’s services for local families.”

Anne Murray, Director of Quality and Safety at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is great news for local children and families. The decision has been made after careful monitoring of the safety and we are now confident that high quality services can be offered locally for children requiring emergency treatment. We will continue to monitor services to ensure that the children receive the service they deserve.”