Radical plans to overhaul healthcare across Bedford Borough are shrouded in a mixture of secrecy and inaction.
That is the verdict of all four major groups at Borough Hall, who are calling on health chiefs to get their act together, and are demanding the protection of key services at Bedford Hospital.
And, at a meeting of Bedford Borough Council last night, councillors of all parties were set to unite in demanding the retention of vital services such as A&E, paediatric and obstetrics.
All services, including these key functions, are under review by the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) process.
In a joint statement, Mayor Dave Hodgson, Conservative leader Stephen Moon, Labour leader Sue Oliver, Lib Dem leader Wendy Ryder, and Independent leader Pat Olney, said: “The intention of the STP to better integrate health and social care services is one we can all support given the opportunity for significant, long-term improvements to services.
“There has been, however, a worrying lack of progress so far and minimal partnership working and engagement with elected representatives and the public, exacerbated by a lack of transparency in the STP process.
“We are deeply concerned about the absence of a commitment from the NHS organisations leading the STP to retain vital services at Bedford Hospital. Bedford Borough’s population is growing and we must have a robust, accessible health and social care system which reflects this.
“We are calling on NHS partners to commit both to greater transparency and engagement and to protect core services at Bedford Hospital including consultant-led A&E, paediatrics and obstetrics.”
STP reviews are taking place across the UK, with the local version covering both Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
As a result it involves 16 organisations including local authorities, GPs, and hospitals in Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes.
The scheme is being led locally by the chief executive of Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.
As part of the STP proposals will be drawn up to amalgamate a range of services across the Bedford, Milton Keynes and Luton hospital sites, potentially meaning longer journeys for patients.
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