Times & Citizen launches campaign to protect health services in Bedford

MBTC Hospital campaign
MBTC Hospital campaign

The future of healthcare in Bedford is up for grabs – and YOU can help ensure key services remain in our town.

Today is the day Bedford issues a warning to the bosses making decisions about our town’s healthcare: Hands off Bedford Hospital.

Two weeks ago the Times & Citizen was the first to reveal plans to merge Bedford and Luton Hospitals into one single trust split across two sites.

But health chiefs are still unable to answer key questions about the future of key services such as A&E, paediatrics and maternity.

And now the T&C is working with community campaigners to demand assurances that:

* Maternity will remain led by consultants, not midwives;

* All three services will remain fully staffed, at their existing capacity;

* And all three services will continue to remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And that is why the Times & Citizen is championing the Hands Off Bedford Hospital campaign.

Jenny Feneley, who helped found the campaign earlier this month, said: “We have been assured about services in both Luton and Bedford.

“But so far nobody has been able to say to what extent.

“That is a key issue, and that will dictate what sort of health service Bedford will really have.”

She added: “If you live in Bedford and you suffer a heart attack you don’t want to travel all the way to Luton during the rush hour. If you’re on the wrong side of town that could be a 40-mile journey.

“If you’re an expectant mother then a midwife-led maternity may be fine if you have no problems. But if there is an issue in the delivery room which nobody anticipated, you want a consultant there – not one who is on the other side of the county in Luton. That is a nightmare sceanrio for any parent.

“And a parent whose child has regular appointments at paediatrics wants them to be treated in Bedford. Imagine having to take your ill child to a children’s ward in Luton, then take any other children to school locally, and then go to work.

“It simply wouldn’t happen.”

The proposed merger will officially be a takeover of Bedford Hospital by the Luton & Dunstable Hospital.

This is because the L&D is a foundation trust, whereas Bedford is only a trust hospital.

Key figures in the town have already pledged their support to the Hands Off Bedford Hospital campaign, including Mayor Dave Hodgson.

Ian Thomas is a rep for trade union UNISON at Bedford Hospital.

But he was keen to stress that while this may be unsettling news for staff, the number one priority was patients.

He said: “We have been assured that staff won’t be put at risk. If services change then nurses will be given other roles and won’t lose their jobs.

“But we don’t just work here, we live locally and use this hospital, and none of us want to see these key services leave Bedford.

“Our priority is protecting these key services at Bedford and in their full form – for staff and for the people who come here.

“I hope that the rest of Bedford will want to fight for that too.”

Jenny added: “Please join this campaign.It’s our hospital, for everyone in Bedford.

“The alternative is that we don’t have a secure future for our A&E, maternity and children’s ward.”

The Hands Off Bedford Hospital Campaign has a

dedicated website at www.hobh.co.uk/