Trainee doctors can return to Bedford Hospital’s paediatric department from August - but a call is being made for all children’s services to be brought back.
The move was announced by Health Education East of England and the General Medical Council, who say this is the first time junior doctors have been reinstated at a hospital.
They were withdrawn last July due to a lack of supervision.
The news has been cautiously welcomed by Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson who wants a commitment from hospital chiefs that the return of trainees will see the return of full children’s services.
He said: “This good news will only make a real difference to children and families if all the services which were stripped away from Bedford when the junior doctors were removed are reinstated when they come back. There is no reason why paediatric services which were available previously, including overnight and extended care, should not come back too, and for good.”
The Mayor also remains concerned Bedford Hospital will be ‘downgraded’ as recommended by a £3.2million review, Your Health in Bedfordshire, which followed the £2.2million Healthier Together Programme. The studies suggested downgrading two hospitals in the region, one of which could be Bedford.
He added: “The serious but narrow issue of junior doctor supervision must not be exploited to permanently reduce vital children’s services.
“It is unacceptable that children and their families, at the time of the greatest strain, are forced to travel for care which could, and should, be available at their local hospital.”
The announcement trainees can return came after an inspection by the GMC, NHS England, NHS Trust Development Authority, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and a host of experts. They also assessed the quality of other departments.
Bedford Hospital chief executive Stephen Conroy is delighted trainees can return. He said: “We have worked incredibly hard over the past eight months to ensure we embed best practice in education, recruit more paediatricians to provide direct care to patients and better support to junior medical staff, and put in place all the actions and recommendations made to us.”
Under the conditional arrangements, which will be regularly reviewed, junior doctors will return in tranches to the department, starting with GP trainees.