Bedford Hospital downgrade: Mayor says there is no excuse for continuing with plan

Health chiefs have been challenged to scrap their plans to downgrade services at Bedford, Milton Keynes and Luton & Dunstable Hospitals, after “overwhelming public, patient and NHS staff opposition”.

Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson says the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) programme for Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes should scrap its idea of downgrading local hospitals, claiming that its own report - published today - undermines the entire basis of the plans.

He said: “This consultation should serve as a wake-up call for the STP. Even the STP itself could not deny the clear messages from NHS staff, patients and the public in response to its own consultation.

“Downgrading key local hospital services will harm patient care, and makes no sense in the face of growing local populations.’

“There is still time for the STP to change course and pledge to protect key services such as full maternity, paediatrics and A&E at all three hospital. It must do so to stop the damaging uncertainty for Bedford Hospital, and to allow a focus on achieving real sustainability and improved, not reduced, services.”

The STP published its ‘discussion document’ in March which featured ideas including reducing A&E services in at least one of the three hospitals, removing consultant-led maternity care in at least one hospital, and removing higher-risk births, and reducing paediatric care at two of the hospitals, with care for the most unwell children concentrated at one of the three sites.

Consultation on the document took place throughout March, and the STP has published a report summarising the feedback it has received.

The STP’s ‘What We’ve Heard So Far’ report can be downloaded on its website here: http://www.blmkstp.co.uk/publication/what-weve-heard-so-far/