£120m contract fears

Bedford Hospital South Wing.
Bedford Hospital South Wing.

A lack of clarity over a new contract to provide services at Bedford Hospital has left the Trust’s board members fearing for the hospital’s future.

A report presented to the board yesterday (Wednesday) suggested the new musculoskeletal contract could put A&E services at risk as the cost of running the trauma service will increase.

This could have a knock-on effect to other services such as general surgery, maternity, paediatrics and the training of junior doctors and retaining staff.

The board also worries how the new contract will fit in with the review of health services across Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes being led by Bedford Clinical Commissioning Group.

In the report, the trust said it “remains concerned about the financial impact and the wider ramifications on the hospital.”

The BCCG awarded the five-year contract, worth £120million, to Circle in August last year. It is due to take over the musculoskeletal services, which were previously handled by 20 separate contracts, on April 1.

Ed Neale, Bedford Hospital medical director, said: “We absolutely agree with the ambition to modernise care and improve outcomes for patients with musculoskeletal conditions.

“Whilst we support innovation and the development of new service models, the current lack of clarity from Circle means we are unclear about what services Bedford Hospital will continue to provide and what impact the new service model may have on wider acute services.

“Clinical specialties are interdependent, and in this case planned orthopaedic care, emergency trauma care and support services, such as physiotherapy, work co-dependently. Any change to one speciality can impact on clinical viability and costs of other others.

“Until we have clarity about what these changes mean it represents a risk to our organisation clinically, financially and in terms of staff recruitment and retention. It is this risk which has been highlighted to our Trust board.”