We must be united to save our hospital, says Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson

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All of us in Bedford borough are past, present and/or potential future patients of Bedford Hospital.

It is therefore only natural that the dreadful threat to its future has caused a great deal of discussion and concerned debate. With the local population growing and services highly rated by independent inspectors, the plans of NHS Commissioners to rip essential services out from our community are as unjustifiable as they are shocking.

Much of the focus has been on the proposals to drastically cut A&E services. This is inevitable, because the damaging effect of the extra time it will take for local people in need of emergency treatment to access it is immediately obvious.

However, the shortlisted plans propose cuts to hospital services in Bedford right across the board. They include plans for no births in Bedford at all and for the closure of the children’s unit, to give just two examples. The impact this will have on local families is huge, and it seems that the Clinical Commissioning Group, which is leading the review, just does not appreciate this.

I have been warning about the obvious purpose of this review since day one, and at every stage the Commissioners’ response has been that ‘no decisions have been made’.

That may be true, but in that time they have reduced their list of 36 options down to 14, and now to five, of which three would represent a major loss of services at Bedford Hospital.

Even worse, through their evaluation process, they have scored the two most savage downgrades of the hospital as far and away their highest-ranked options.

Again we are told that ‘no decisions have been made’ and reassuring words are spoken, yet Commissioners retain these dreadful scenarios as their highest-ranking options and insist that ‘all options must be considered.’

Personally, I am appalled that the commissioners see the removal of all maternity and children’s services and all beds as an option at all.

It is up to us as a community to join together to make them recognise that it is certainly not one we will accept.

Please sign and share the petition at www.savebedfordhospital.org.uk and look out for more opportunities to take action in support of the campaign to save Bedford Hospital as we know it.