Threatened hospital services can still be saved, report proves

Bedford Hospital south wing accident and emergency. PNL-140718-081753001Bedford Hospital south wing accident and emergency. PNL-140718-081753001
Bedford Hospital south wing accident and emergency. PNL-140718-081753001
Key services at Bedford Hospital do not need to be axed. This is the findings of Bedford Borough Council's own review into the hospital's future, published today.

The council commissioned its report in the face of increasing uncertainty faced by the A&E, maternity and paediatric departments under the ongoing Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review.

It’s findings, the council said, shows how important services can still be saved for its catchment population of 260,000 and the 2,600 staff it employs.

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With cross-party support, PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) was commissioned in May to carry out the specialist work to identify a sustainable future for the hospital.

The £169,000 report highlights that linking Social Care and Health Care could provide a better, more joined-up approach for patients and could also provide clinical and financial benefits.

The report recognises the significant pressures facing both Health and Social Care going forward but puts forward a sustainable solution that works alongside the existing reviews.

A joint statement from all parties on the council said: “We commissioned PwC to provide the knowledge and experience to help identify a sustainable future for Bedford Hospital that protects local services.

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“The work carried out by PwC looked into existing reviews, the challenges facing both the Health and Social Care sectors as well as looking at similar work being carried out around the country.

“The resulting recommendations set out how by integrating health and social care we can introduce a solution that improves services for local residents, reduces costs and saves local services.”

The statement added: “We will be presenting these findings to Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Bedford Hospital and look forward to them being incorporated in the existing reviews.”

The findings of the report will also be passed to the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review which is currently assessing four options for the future of Bedford Hospital, which could see services pooled with Milton Keynes Hospital. It is expected the delayed public consultation on these options will begin in November. So far, the Healthcare Review has cost in the region of £4.5 million.

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Meanwhile, a third review - The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - is being run by councils and health bosses across Bedford Borough, Luton and Milton Keynes.

It involves a total of 16 different organisations and is designed to produce cash savings and quality improvements.