More children will be cared for at Bedford Hospital after health chiefs announced the return of further children’s services.
The Riverbank Children’s Unit will now be able to care for children for up to 23 hours a day.
Meanwhile children with complex or long-term conditions will once again be able to access care at Bedford Hospital, as children’s open access re-opens.
Since October, the Riverbank Children’s Unit has been open daily between 9am and 11pm, and GPs have been able to refer children to a consultant paediatrician for short-stay assessment and treatment.
The Riverbank Children’s unit is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and children can receive care and treatment at the facility for up to 23 hours.
Children who attend A&E can also be referred to the unit for ongoing assessment and care, although for the time being emergency ambulances (those responding to 999 calls) will take children to neighbouring hospitals.
Children with complex or long-term conditions will also, once again, be able to get their care and treatment at Bedford Hospital, following the return of open access services.
Lead Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Andy Raffles, said: “The vast majority of children admitted to hospital can be assessed, treated and sent home within 23 hours. With our paediatric unit now open 24 hours a day, we can care for a great deal more children at Bedford Hospital, which means fewer families having to travel to neighbouring hospitals.
“Since July, we have recruited additional medical and nursing staff, improved staff training, and reviewed the training and supervision of junior doctors. We have also redesigned our services and care pathways based on the best practice, and this has allowed us to demonstrate that we can deliver safe and high quality children’s services at Bedford Hospital.
“We are also reviewing and improving our outpatient services, particularly clinics for children with long-term conditions, such as Diabetes, Epilepsy and Cystic Fibrosis.”
Stephen Conroy, Acting Chief Executive for Bedford Hospital, said: “This latest news is another positive step in the right direction.
“We believe that families should be able to access the majority of care for their children locally and we have been working hard to develop proposals to bring back our children’s services in a safe and sustainable way.”
Director of Nursing and Quality at Bedfordshire Clinical commissioning Group, Anne Murray, said: “We are delighted that Bedford Hospital has been able to return these services safely. It is the product of much hard work on the part of the hospital’s paediatrics team - and successful joint working with us as clinical commissioners.”