New mothers and A&E patients could be among those affected by a major shake-up of hospitals in Bedford and the surrounding region, it was claimed this week.
In an in-depth interview with the Times & Citizen, Councillor Louise King, Labour spokesman for health at Borough Hall, spoke out about the Healthier Together project.
She says the project could mean that first-time mothers are no longer able to go to Bedford Hospital, as the hospital could switch to a midwife-led maternity unit and reduced obstetrics.
Louise said: “Any expectant mum would want to know if they could still give birth in their local hospital. Right now, that simple question isn’t being answered.
“It’s questionable whether first-time mums would find themselves at Bedford Hospital if it was only a midwife-led unit. Those are the women who have a much greater chance of needing to have an emergency caesarian or of having complications, and they may have to go elsewhere in the region.”
Healthier Together is being put together by hospital bosses in Bedford, Kettering, Northampton, Milton Keynes, and Luton & Dunstable, and is being designed to save £48million.
The changes could see the hospitals combining for a “networked A&E” service, and Louise said there were numerous questions to be answered as to what that might mean in practice.
She said: “It is not clear how this will work or what it will mean for patient safety. We have been asking questions and unfortunately we have not been getting answers.
“Will Bedford be networked with one other hospital or several? Will staff be moved between sites? Will there be more staff at these other hospitals to deal with the extra demand?
“These are basic questions that need straightforward answers.”
A spokesman for Healthier Together said: “Evidence from the clinical working groups together with feedback from our engagement programme has supported the development of two potential options on how health services might be delivered in the future.
“Under both options, all five hospitals would have an A&E and a maternity service along with outpatients and other routine services which make up the bulk of hospital visits. The majority of people would continue to access the services they need at their local hospital or at community facilities including GP practices close to their homes.
“More complex or specialist care would be provided through specialist centres on fewer sites because there is clear clinical evidence that this would deliver better, safer patient outcomes.”
What do you make of these possible changes at Bedford Hospital?
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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