The Mayor of Bedford has issued a rallying cry to save Bedford Hospital from being downgraded.
Dave Hodgson described as “shocking” health chiefs’ plans for the future of the hospital, which stem from the current £3.2million review of health services across the county and Milton Keynes.
As part of the review body, Bedford Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) has presented 14 options for future services offered by Bedford and Milton Keynes hospitals.
The mayor claims that, despite being one of the best-performing hospitals in the region, these options show a reduction or loss of emergency services is “almost inevitable”.
He said: “NHS Commissioners simply have no concept of the devastating effect this downgrade would have on our community.
“It is up to us to join together and make clear with one voice that these plans are utterly unacceptable and that we will not accept the downgrading of our hospital.
“Including the discredited £2.2million Healthier Together programme, £5.4 million has now been spent on reviews seeking the downgrading of Bedford Hospital – money which could have been invested in front line services.
“Bedford borough is growing and the Care Quality Commission rates Bedford Hospital highly. Yet residents face being forced to travel further in emergencies, to lower-rated services.”
A BCCG spokeswoman said the review’s vision is “to provide better care closer to people’s homes by expanding the range of services available at GP surgeries and in the community”.
She added: “This will enable hospitals to concentrate their skills and resources on patients who need acute treatments such as obstetrics and accident and emergency.
“For more specialist treatments patients would continue to go to specialist centres such as Addenbrooke’s.”
The review team is examining the options to narrow them down to three or four choices, which will be put out for consultation in autumn. A decision will be made in January next year.
The Mayor has launched a petition, which has attracted more than 1,000 signatures.
He said: “I encourage everyone to join the all-important fight to Save Bedford Hospital.” Go to www.savebedfordhospital.org.uk