Hospital chief speaks ahead of departure

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The outgoing chief executive of Bedford Hospital has this week spoken out about his last two years at the NHS trust.

Joe Harrison is set to leave his post at the helm of the Bedford NHS Trust and is set to take up the position of leading Milton Keynes Hospital in February.

It will be almost two years exactly to the day that he started at Bedford Hospital.

Mr Harrison, who lives near Aylesbury with his family, said: “There is the leaving here bit first and there is no question at all I will be sad to leave here. I think this is a fantastic place.

“We have 2,500 staff who give their all for this organisation. Leaving that behind and everything we have working on will be very hard.”

Lookignahead he added: “I am really looking forward to taking on the new challenges at Milton Keynes. It’s going to be very different, but I’m looking forward to it.

“Milton Keynes has a much younger population, it is a foundation trust and it is a very different type of organisation. There is lots and lots of work to be done to get it back to the standard where it should be.

“It’s one of those organisations that should and could be fantastic. Milton Keynes is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and it needs its local hospital to be fantastic.”

Last year Mr Harrison revealed proposals to merge with Milton Keynes Hospital in a bid to save money and improve clinical services. But the move was met with opposition with Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson setting up a Save Bedford Hospital Campaign.

But the hospital chief said the move, which is favoured as a preferred option by the trust board, insisted that no services at Bedford Hospital would close as a result.

He added: “The fact is we are not going to get any more money from the Government and we need to look at saving money.

“We are now at a stage where we have all our clinical teams on board with the idea and we are now looking at putting a case together to show the Strategic Health Association (SHA) that this is not just a better option, it is the best option. Which is what they want to see.

“I came here to care for the people of Bedford, I will go to Milton Keynes to care of the people there, and if we merge I will care for people across both Bedford and Milton Keynes.

“There is still a long way to go before anything happens.”

And he added that it is still important to him that no redundancies will be made if the merger goes ahead.

Mr Harrison said: “I am quite proud of that fact that we haven’t had to make any redundancies. We have a very dedicated team of staff and getting rid of jobs is not a road I want to go down.

“We need to protect them because they are our most valuable asset.”