Yet another health review is being launched for Bedford this week – meaning three are taking place simultaneously.
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.
But it will run at the same time as the Bedford and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review – which is expected to see A&E be downgraded at either Bedford or Milton Keynes Hospital – plus an independent review which has been ordered by Borough Hall.
A briefing note explained: “The STP does not replace the healthcare review.... It is a separate (nationally directed) collaboration to transform health and outcomes across local communities.”
It adds: “The health care review will continue and the STP will proceed in parallel, although strong links will ensure that emerging findings from one programme informs the other.”
The future of Bedford Hospital is currently under scrutiny from the MK and Bedford Healthcare Review, which is considering pooling the two hospitals’ resources. The total bill of that review is expected to be around £4.5million.
But the additional £169,000 scheme is designed to develop a specific plan for a “better and more secure” future for Bedford Hospital.
A source said: “All those extensive consultations and millions of pounds spent exploring various options seem to have come to nothing.
“The options will now be looked at in the STP that no one yet understands. But it is obvious if is now wider than MK and Bedford hospitals.
“People could argue that given the huge deficit facing MK hospital, all the money spent on the reviews, never mind the doctor time, could have gone to hospital itself.”
A spokesman for Bedford Hospital said: “Bedford Hospital has been fully aware of the work commissioned by Bedford Borough Council to look at the potential future model of hospital service in the borough. Whilst the trust shares the aim of securing a range of sustainable hospital services it was not involved in, nor contributed to, the commissioning of the work, or the design of any potential future model.
“The trust remains committed to the parallel work programmes of the Healthcare Review, led by Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes CCGs, and the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which includes the local authorities as well as Luton’s health and social care organisations, to identify future sustainable models of care.”