Bedford Hospital announced last night it will be bringing back some of its paediatric services following the closure of the Riverbank Ward over a month ago.
Following the crisis that suspended paediatric services at the hospital after junior doctors were withdrawn from their training, the hospital says that more children will be cared for locally from Monday.
Acting chief executive for Bedford Hospital Stephen Conroy said: “We are working hard to bring back children’s services in a safe and sustainable way.
“We have recruited additional consultant paediatricians to deliver services, supported by our paediatric nursing team to enable us to do this and will continue to work to return services to ensure that families can access the majority of care for their children locally.”
Following the recruitment of additional children’s doctors, including lead paediatric consultant, Doctor Andy Raffles, GPs will be able to refer children directly to a consultant paediatrician based on Riverbank Children’s Day Unit for a rapid same-day assessment.
The GP referral service will be available between 9am and 10pm, with referrals accepted until 7pm, seven days a week, and will provide short-stay assessment, review and treatment for children.
If, following a GP referral, a child needs to be admitted to hospital they will continue to be transferred to Milton Keynes or another neighbouring hospital. Families can only access this service for their child through their GP.
The Riverbank Children’s Day Unit will also provide more follow-up support for children who have been treated at a neighbouring hospital.
Ambulances will also be able to bring young people aged between 16 and 19 to Bedford Hospital’s A&E department for treatment.
>> A Freedom Of Information request revealed that the hospital had a shortfall of ten per cent of its A&E staff, however the hospital says that it now only lacks three posts in its A&E department.
>> Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced this week that £3.7million in winter funding will be given to the hospital.
Bedford & Kempston MP Richard Fuller, who met Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt on Monday to discuss progress with returning paediatric services to Bedford, said: “Winter months will be tough ones for hospitals, but given recent difficulties at Bedford Hospital, this funding will be a ‘shot in the arm’ for the A&E team.”