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Mayor’s Rallying Cry Against ‘Appalling’ Hospital Downgrade Plans

July 11, 2014 10:15 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Mayor Dave Hodgson addresses the Save Riverbank Ward Rally in July 2013

Mayor Dave Hodgson has issued a rallying cry against NHS Commissioners' shocking plans for a major downgrade of Bedford Hospital. Commissioners have revealed that the £3.2 million 'Your Health in Bedfordshire' review has narrowed the options for the future of Bedford Hospital to a list of just four, with all of them involving a major reduction of hospital services at one or both of Bedford and Milton Keynes hospitals.

One of the four options announced by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is leading the review, is to turn Bedford Hospital into a GP-led daytime centre with no beds whatsoever. Under the proposals, a reduction or loss of emergency services such as A&E and maternity at Bedford Hospital would be almost inevitable.

The review, covering the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes CCG areas, follows the discredited, £2.2 million 'Healthier Together' programme for the South East Midlands. That proposed a crude downgrading of two hospitals, widely recognised to be Bedford and Kettering. However, the proposals revealed under the current review, which will be subject to public consultation in the autumn, include an even more drastic dismantling of Bedford Hospital.

The plans have been produced in spite of the growing local population and the fact that the health regulator the Care Quality Commission rates Bedford as one of the highest-performing hospitals in the region.

Commenting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "NHS Commissioners simply have no concept of the devastating effect this downgrade would have on our community. It is up to us to join together and make clear with one voice that these plans are utterly unacceptable and that we will not accept the downgrading of our hospital.'

"£5.4 million has now been spent on reviews seeking the downgrading of Bedford Hospital - money which could have been invested in front line services. Bedford Borough is growing and the regulator, the CQC, rates Bedford Hospital highly. Yet residents face being forced to travel further in emergencies, to lower-rated services. This is an appalling, unacceptable prospect for our community, and I am encouraging everyone to join the all-important fight to Save Bedford Hospital. This is a battle which we, as a community, simply cannot afford to lose."

The CCG is set to publish its plans in the next month, and has said that public consultation will take place in the autumn.