Bedford Hospital will gain an extra wing in 2017

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Cramped Bedford Hospital is to gain a huge chunk of extra space in 2017, the T&C can exclusively reveal.

All mental health services are to quit the Weller Wing and move to premises elsewhere in search of a “better” therapeutic environment.

This frees up the massive 1960’s-built wing, which is directly opposite the A&E building.

But amid the uncertainty of the ongoing STP review, it is difficult for the hospital to decide how to utilise the new space.

The Sustainable Transformation Plan is looking at merging Bedford with Milton Keynes and Luton and Dunstable hospitals.

But the sudden addition of an entire wing could work in Bedford’s favour as it would give more room for shared core services such as maternity and A&E, say sources.

Weller Wing currently hosts local mental health services and houses inpatients from all over Beds.

It is run by East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT).

An ELFT spokesman told the T&C: “We gave a commitment to relocate mental health services away from the Weller Wing site when it was commissioned by Bedfordshire CCG in April 2015.”

He added: “It has long since been recognised that we need to provide a far better therapeutic environment to help patients with their recovery.”

The Trust is keeping mum about where services will be moved to, but says an announcement will be made within weeks.

Sources say sites in Clapham and Leighton Buzzard are being considered, but ELFT refused to confirm this.

“It’s a horrible uncertain time for staff and some of them are applying for other jobs,” said one insider.

Meanwhile Bedford hospital bosses are still deciding what to do with the building, which is also home to the Cauldwell Medical Centre GP practice.

A spokesman said: “The hospital will retain the site for NHS use and has been considering different options.

“These have included using areas of it to host hospital services and leasing it to other NHS providers.”