Alistair Burt’s monthly column: Listening to the details about healthcare changes

The North East Bedfordshire MP writes his monthly column for this website

He was a wonderful doctor but would be the first to admit that modern family doctor facilities are a world away from his day.

Making progress in health for improved patient care is fraught with political traps. That GPs do more in their surgeries now is because things which had previously been solely done by hospitals could be done elsewhere, but taking any facility away from a hospital can always be portrayed negatively.

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I am reminded of this by current discussion about possible changes to our regional hospitals.

Medicine is constantly changing. The ability to perform more procedures is growing, and the determination of all health professionals to ensure the best chance of success is growing too.

These factors have been driving the growth of specialist units and indeed specialist hospitals for some time. Ensuring the best outcome for our family from a hospital visit is vital to all of us.

Having kept in close touch with John Rooke who is heading up Bedfordshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group, I believe firstly doctors and other clinical staff will lead the discussion on options for change, based on patient safety.

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Secondly there will be full engagement with the public on any change and third no decisions have been made about Bedford Hospital or anywhere else.

I think a community’s support for a hospital should be based of course on the existing service it gives, but also on some evidence as to what is planned for it. Saving Our Hospital, if it comes to it, will have more force if we find out what it has to be saved from.

No change, keeping all services just as they have always been, would have left my father’s surgery as it was 50 years ago. If recommendations from doctors help keep my constituents safe, then I’m listening.

I expect we will hear more in the early New Year and look forward to talking through any recommendations with you.

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