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Questions Raised over Marginalisation of Bedford in NHS Review Affecting Hospital's Future

July 22, 2016 6:39 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Bedford HospitalSevere concerns that Bedford Borough is being marginalised by a major review of local health services which could affect the future of Bedford Hospital were raised by Mayor Dave Hodgson and councillors at a full council meeting this week.

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) for the future of health and social care are being developed across the country. This is a different process from the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review by the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups. This has proposed a downgrade of Bedford Hospital including an end to maternity services in Bedford, including no more hospital births locally. The Healthcare Review is currently 'paused' with the future direction still unknown.

At Wednesday night's Full Council meeting Mayor Dave and Councillors aired concerns including over why those in charge of the STP in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes failed to consult with the Mayor and local councillors about what impact changes to healthcare in Bedford Borough will have on local residents.

They also questioned NHS England's decision to not invite representatives of Bedford Borough Council to an STP meeting taking place today, despite inviting Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough councils. After raising this issue earlier in the week, an invitation for the council to attend was confirmed on Thursday and Bedford Borough Council was represented.

Additionally, Mayor Dave reiterated his concern that the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review should be scrapped, and highlighted that it is not known if the current 'pause' will culminate in its scrapping or whether it will form the basis of the STP for Bedfordshire.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "The threat to services at Bedford Hospital has dragged on for years, causing uncertainty and anxiety for patients and staff. We have challenged this threat, and commissioned a report which showed that a sustainable model for Bedford Hospital can be achieved alongside the retention of vital services such as A & E, children's care and maternity services.'

"Across all parties on the council there is real concern that Bedford Borough is being excluded from much of the crucial STP process. This is denying input on local health and social care services from this community and from the Council as provider of social care.'

"We laid out our concerns in the hope that NHS decision makers will now begin engaging properly with Bedford Borough in the task of producing plans for a successful future for Bedford Hospital and for all health and social care services."