BEDFORD HOSPITAL: Changes to children’s services revealed

b13-566 Stephen Conry acting chief exec of Bedford Hospital.
b13-566 Stephen Conry acting chief exec of Bedford Hospital.

Bedford Hospital chiefs have today revealed what changes are set to be made in its paediatric department.

The changes, which the hospital claims are an interim measure, follow a decision by Health Education East of England and the General Medical Council, to withdraw junior medical trainees from the hospital’s paediatric department.

The decision over which services should change and how they should change was taken following a series of risk summits, led by NHS England, and involving the NHS Trust Development Authority, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, the East of England Ambulance Trust and other local hospitals.

From 1 August 2013, the Trust will, in the short term, NO LONGER provide:

- Planned overnight inpatient care (on Riverbank Ward) for children having planned (elective) surgery, or planned medical procedures or care. Children will be cared for by their Bedford consultant at Milton Keynes Hospital (or another neighbouring hospital)

- Emergency overnight inpatient care (on Riverbank Ward) as there will be no emergency admissions from 31 July

- Children’s Accident and Emergency (children brought to hospital by ambulance will go straight to the next nearest hospital. Children (those aged up to 19) should not be brought to A&E as walk in patients from 1 August.

- Children’s Assessment Unit, for children requiring short-stay observation following attendance at A&E (as there will be no emergency admissions from 31 July)

The Trust WILL CONTINUE to provide:

-Children’s outpatients services (all children’s outpatients clinics will continue to run as normal)

-Nurse-led ambulatory care for children with chronic or long term conditions whose care can be managed by specialist paediatric nurses

-Day Unit (on Riverbank Ward) with day case care following planned surgery, or for planned medical procedures or care

-Maternity services and neonatal services are unaffected and continue to run as normal

-All other services, including adult A&E remain as normal.

Acting Chief Executive, Stephen Conroy, said: “I know the strength of local feeling for our children’s services, for Riverbank Ward and our fantastic children’s nurses, and I fully appreciate the impact these changes will have on families in Bedfordshire.

“I am deeply sorry for the anxiety and distress the announcement of these changes will cause.

“It is important to remember that we must take these steps to ensure children’s care and treatment can continue to be delivered safely at all times. We cannot and will not continue to deliver services without the right number of doctors to safely do so.

“These changes do not mean that Riverbank Ward is closing, as we will still be treating and caring for children here. We will not be putting nursing jobs at risk.

“These changes are significant, but we are working to secure a safe and sustainable future for children’s services for local people, here at their local hospital.

“What is of most concern for me now, is making sure families in Bedfordshire know where they need to go and what they need to do if their child becomes unwell.

“Staff will be talking to all families with children who have planned operations or medical care, as well as those with chronic or long-term conditions. We will also be launching a public information campaign to help families understand the changes and what they mean.

“Critically, we are advising families who need emergency (A&E) attention for their child to dial 999 for an ambulance.

“This is a difficult time for families and the local community. Our focus is on making sure care is safe in the short term, and on ensuring long term sustainability for families to access the majority of emergency and planned children’s care at Bedford Hospital.”

Families or young people with concerns about how the changes may affect them should contact Riverbank Ward on 01234 730500.

To find out more about today’s announcement pick up your copy of Thursday’s Times & Citizen. Any further information for parents from the hospital will appear on this website.

Are you affected by these changes? Call the newsdesk on 01234 409100 or email