The merger between Bedford and Luton hospitals will begin on April 1 – April Fools Day – providing NHS chiefs agree.
A ‘Full Business Case’ for the merger was published this week by the two hospitals, giving the first glimpse of how patients and services will be affected by the £150m plan.
The document emphasises that the Cygnet Wing maternity unit and A &E WILL stay at Bedford and maintain their current capacity.
The A&E building, however, will be “relocated” elsewhere on the Bedford campus.
Bedford will get an added bonus in the form of a new multi-storey car park. There will also be money invested to replace the old modular theatres with new facilities.
One of the biggest differences will be in patients’ choice of where and when they wish to be treated. There will be a single booking system, with one team providing planned care and diagnostics.
“The single booking process for patients supports choice of location of care,” states the plan.
Critically ill patients arriving by ambulance will not get a choice though. The ambulance teams will liaise with emergency teams at both sites and the patient will go directly to the hospital with “the most appropriate capacity at the time.”
This, states the plan, will reduce the risk of either site being overwhelmed and ensure the best use of clinical staff.
Single specialist services for categories such as gynaecology, elective orthopaedics and gastro will also be created across the two hospitals.
The plan sets out in no-nonsense terms what would happen if the merger did not go ahead.
In the “do nothing” case, Bedford hospital would stand to lose between £9m and £11m a year. But the merger would generate a surplus of £9.9m over the next five years.
“Looking forward it is increasingly difficult for both hospitals to deliver services,” states the plan.
If the Full Business Case is approved by the NHS, the formal merger agreement will be signed in March. The integration process will begin on April 1.