Beware of any merger which can be the first step to losing key services at your hospital.
That is the message from neighbouring Hertfordshire, where patients have seen A&E, maternity and paediatrics all leave Hemel Hempstead Hospital over the last decade.
Edie Glatter has been a health campaigner for many years in the town, but she believes that the decision to merge Hemel with Watford Hospital 10 years ago was a watershed moment.
She said: “It all happens incrementally.
“First you’re told that it’s just the boards merging, and that it’s something that makes the organisations work more efficiently – who could argue with that?
“But we were also told we’d still have an A&E. We no longer have an A&E.
“We had a reduced maternity, but then they told us that it wasn’t safe, that it wasn’t used enough and that they didn’t have enough staff. The reason there weren’t enough staff is because they kept taking them to Watford.”
Mrs Glatter made her comments following the launch of the Hands Off Our Hospital campaign, which the Times & Citizen is taking a leading role in.
Luton and Bedford hospitals have announced their plans to merge into a single organisation. But key questions remain unanswered about the future of A&E, maternity and paediatrics.
And Mrs Glatter had this message for people in Bedford: “Don’t let them take maternity and paediatrics – once those go it is much easier to lose your A&E.”