At Bedford Hospital, it is a question of leadership now.
The merger with Milton Keynes Hospital is on hold; the inquiry into the failures that led to the withdrawal of paediatric services is underway; and the CQC will soon be back to check on progress since their highly critical report over the summer.
The leaders at Bedford Hospital on the board, amongst senior medical staff, and in senior management, need to demonstrate openness and decisive leadership.
Openness so the hospital can learn from its mistakes, take accountability, improve services and achieve the return of modern, sustainable services.
Decisive leadership so the hospital can play an active role in providing health services locally. Rather than see itself as an “extra” in the evolving landscape of health services in Bedfordshire, I want the hospital to map out its own strategy – a confident, growing one.
I see no reason why our hospital should wait around for any other town’s hospital to get its act together. Bedford should lead, not follow, whenever it can.
In my last T&C column, I outlined my concerns that moving too quickly to transform the hospital into a campus of “best in class providers” could undermine the improvements it seeks. Explicit commitments to local provision of services, and a requirement to contribute to the shared costs of the core services of a hospital, should be evident in all contracts.
We need leadership from our local GP-led commissioning group to show they understand the strong desire that people have for local provision of health services and that they will structure their contracts accordingly.