Building strong links with Addenbrooke’s, streamlining urgent care services and integrating acute and community services will help make Bedford Hospital a “modern district general hospital” according to health chiefs.
This vision of the hospital’s future was outlined to councillors at the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.
To achieve it, the North Bedfordshire Primary and Acute Programme, a joint project by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG), Bedford Hospital and Bedford GPs, will develop the ideas based on recommendations made in the £3.2 million Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review.
In addition to the commitment already given by BCCG to retain core acute services at Bedford, the committee heard of plans to develop an integrated A&E with an urgent care walk-in centre on the hospital site.
Bedford Hospital’s associate medical director, Dr Rory Harvey, said: “The work from the Healthcare Review has been important in focusing us on the fact that change is needed.
“We are looking at how we can treat frail and elderly patients out of hospital, and how we can join up urgent and emergency care so it is more effective.
“The GP hub network that is currently being worked on is a fantastic model, with the hospital working with these hubs to deliver care closer to patients’ homes.”
He added: “Super-specialist care is dependent on volumes of patients.
“However, we don’t have the volumes in Bedford, so this is where we need to network with other hospitals rather than simply move services, and we have the relationships in place to do that.”
He added: “We can do it and we are not far away from doing it.”
Health committee member Councillor Mark Smith said the vision was received at the February 17 meeting, but questions were raised about the review costs and the time it is taking.
The Independent councillor, who represents Ampthill, Maulden and Clophill added: “We appreciate the consultation they have carried out so far, but we have questioned whether it represents value for money.
“It’s also taking a long time, and will be longer still as the process will be stalled by the forthcoming elections.”
Forging stronger links with Addenbrooke’s Hospital has the support of local residents, according to Bedford and Kempston MP Richard Fuller.
Since launching his Addenbrooke’s Alliance campaign in The T&C, he has received many responses, with some patients citing cases where being treated at both hospitals has been successful.
Mr Fuller has also met with the NHS Trust Development Agency to press the case for an Addenbrooke’s Alliance. Richard said: “I am grateful to The Times & Citizen for providing this forum for people to really get behind our hospital to ensure we continue to deliver services locally but draw on the clinical expertise of other hospitals to meet increasing care quality targets.”
Views can be sent to Mr Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org