Hospital plans get green light

PLANS to get foundation status for Bedford Hospital - which would mean the hospital trust has more financial and managerial freedom - were backed by staff, patients and NHS bosses last week.

Two meetings of local stakeholders were held on June 25 and 27.

Hospitals have until April 2014 to apply for the status.

Joe Harrison, chief executive of the hospital, said: “This event was a great start to the more open dialogue we want to have about how Bedford Hospital can reach NHS Foundation Trust status.

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“The event took in a great deal of discussion about the changing NHS environment, and included issues as diverse as new Royal College guidelines on the number of consultants required to run a clinical service; to the Healthier Together review, changes in how healthcare is commissioned, and the national and global economic environment.”

More than 50 people took part in the event, including representatives from local councils, GPs, NHS Bedfordshire, and the East of England Ambulance Service, as well as hospital doctors, nurses and trade union representatives.

Mr Harrison added: “It is not simply about whether we are doing what we do currently well enough, it’s about making sure the hospital can respond to these significant changes and developments in a sustainable way, to keep on providing excellent services locally for the people of Bedfordshire.

“While becoming an NHS FT independently remains an option, we also need to consider other potential options, including proceeding with a partner, to enable us to get where we need to be. The event this week was not about finding the answer to that, but exploring the trust’s challenges and opportunities.”