Bedford’s leaders have hit out at plans to downgrade Bedford Hospital and move maternity services to Milton Keynes.
Mayor Dave Hodgson, MP Richard Fuller, and Borough Hall’s public health boss Louise Jackson have all spoken out following Wednesday’s announcement by the Bedford and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review.
The trio believe that the plan would undermine Bedford Hospital.
In a joint statement, they said: “Proposals to remove maternity services from Bedford Hospital are unacceptable.
“Across political parties we are united in our belief that these plans, if implemented, would worsen patient experience. The interdependencies of obstetrics, paediatrics and ultimately A&E would leave all of our core services at very significant risk.
“We recognise that recruitment is already a challenge for Bedford Hospital in this climate of uncertainty, so a change of such magnitude would make it harder than it already is for our local hospital and, indeed, for our local GP practices to recruit staff.
“The ramifications of such a significant change to a local hospital in our growing town are huge, and will not be supported by politicians of any party.”
The Bedford and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review announced on Wednesday its recommendation for a number of hospital services to be centred in Milton Keynes, while a range of services in Bedford are either downgraded or shut.
The scheme, which began in 2014, originally covered 36 options, including major downgrades of A&E at both hospitals. Under Wednesday’s proposals Bedford will keep some antenatal and prenatal services, as well as support for home births.
But in papers seen by the Times & Citizen, healthcare chiefs have admitted that any loss of maternity services would be a “major concern” to patients in both towns.
The same paper adds: “There is some support for splitting services so that one hospital focuses on emergency care and the other on planned care.
“However, especially for emergency care and maternity, this is outweighed by significant concerns over the risk of increased travel times and ease of parking for patients and families if not going by ambulance, especially for minority groups.”