Bedford Hospital ‘will be safe’ - health chiefs say vital services will not be axed

Bedford Hospital Accident and Emergency.
Bedford Hospital Accident and Emergency.

Maternity, paediatric and A&E services at Bedford Hospital will not be axed, according to health chiefs – and a multi-million pound healthcare review looks likely to be scrapped.

Bedford Clinical Commissioning Group is putting three options in a briefing to its governing body, which would see the hospital become a major emergency centre or intergrated care centre.

A BCCG spokeswoman said more details would be released later this month when a report is published as part of the £3.2million health review being carried out with Milton Keynes CCG.

She added while the report will recommend keeping the services, there is still work to be done to reduce the BCCG and hospital’s financial debts. This will include delivering care ‘closer to home’ through better access to GPs, support for the elderly and people living with long-term conditions.

Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “The good news that the commissioners are dropping their proposal for Bedford Hospital to have no beds whatsoever shows that the campaign to save Bedford Hospital as we know it is working.

“The commissioners themselves state a ‘lack of stakeholder support’ which could make the plans ‘undeliverable’ is a reason for this change.”

He added: “In English, this means they have been made to realise we will not accept such savage plans for our hospital, and it shows the importance of keeping up the pressure to save vital services.

“The campaign is getting through, but with two of the remaining three options representing a severe downgrade, we must maintain the momentum and keep fighting for the future of key services at Bedford Hospital.”

Bedford Hospital chief executive, Stephen Conroy, said the hospital faces significant financial pressures due to “a combination of factors” such as high patient numbers, the rising cost of drugs and supplies and improving staffing levels.

He added: “Bedford Hospital will continue to provide core services such as A&E, paediatrics and maternity and we will be working with BCCG and the NHS Trust Development Authority to take the review to its next phase as we seek to find a sustainable solution for local healthcare services.”

“We will always put quality and patient safety first, and this is reflected in our recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings, as well as our performance in reducing pressure ulcers and infections. However, our current financial position is not sustainable and so we must find more efficient ways of delivering high quality services to our patients.”

Meanwhile, the multi-million pound review into twinning the future of Bedford and Milton Keynes hospitals is likely to result in absolutely nothing. Sources have told the T&C healthcare review bosses are about to recommend the two hospitals be “de-coupled”, although this has yet to be confirmed. Instead even more money could be spent looking at the possibilities of Bedford with Addenbrooke’s and Milton Keynes with Oxford.

The Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare review was conducted by outside consultants PwC with £3.2 million government funding.