Hyper-acute stroke services being withdrawn amid concerns over future of Bedford Hospital

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Hyper-actute stroke services are set to be axed at Bedford Hospital, and insiders have blamed the ongoing uncertainty which surrounds the hospital’s future.

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which oversees health services across the town, announced on Wednesday (May 18) that one of the hospital’s two stroke consultants has resigned.

As a result the service is no longer be considered viable, and the service will be withdrawn from the stroke unit.

Hospital spokesman Mike Thompson said: “From July we may no longer be able to provide hyper-actute stroke services due to the resignation of one of the two consultants.

“The trust is continuing to provide the services that it provides, including stroke services. The issues in this instance are specific to the stroke department.

“We will otherwise continue to function as normal for the foreseeable future.”

The future of Bedford Hospital has been under scrutiny since a joint review of health services in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes was launched in January 2014.

At present Bedford only provides a hyper-acute stroke service five days a week, whereas other larger hospitals function 24/7.

Councillor Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for public health at Bedford Borough Council, pointed to underlying problems within the wider health economy which were hurting Bedford Hospital, including the uncertainty about regional health services.

She said: “Recruitment is undoubtedly a huge challenge for Bedford Hospital.

“If you were a consultant - or any healthcare professional for that matter - would you choose to work at a hospital with such an uncertain future?

“Hospitals like Bedford have to fill positions with expensive temporary staff and locums, and recruit heavily from overseas.

“Overall this worsens their financial position and makes it easier to justify the ‘financial unsustainability’ argument that NHS England make.”

She added: “Bedford is an excellent hospital and it’s one that we need here in our town. There is a way forward because there has to be one.”