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Mayor Dave Hodgson Speaks Out Against Hospital Downgrade Proposals

March 14, 2017 10:49 AM

Bedford Hospital entrance- Mayor Dave calls for community to deliver 'resounding message' in opposition to the plans 'before it's too late'

Mayor Dave Hodgson has spoken out against new proposals for A&E, Maternity and Paediatric services to each be downgraded in at least one of Bedford, Luton or Milton Keynes Hospitals. He has also called for residents to deliver a resounding message in support of Bedford Hospital in response to the proposals.

The proposals have been published as 'initial thinking' in a discussion paper produced by the NHS-led review of local healthcare, the Bedfordshire and MK Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The paper asks for the public's views on 'ideas' including:

• Reducing A&E services in at least one of the three hospitals, 'especially overnight'

• Removing consultant-led maternity care in at least one hospital, meaning only 'low-risk births' could take place locally and forcing a large number of mothers to give birth away from their community at more distant hospitals.

• Reducing paediatric care at two of the hospitals, and concentrating care for the most unwell children at one of the three sites

Mayor Dave Hodgson has long warned of a government and NHS agenda to downgrade Bedford Hospital, and in particular A&E, maternity and paediatrics. The previous Healthcare Review concluded with a proposal to remove maternity services from Bedford Hospital, and Mayor Dave Hodgson has called on the STP leadership to formally reject that flawed review and its recommendations.

It has refused, and has also refused the unanimous demand of Mayor Dave Hodgson and all Bedford Borough Councillors for the retention of key services including full consultant-led A&E, paediatrics and obstetrics at Bedford Hospital.

Commenting, Mayor Dave said: "We need to speak out as a community against these proposals before it is too late. They could mean the end of Bedford Hospital as we know it, and it is only by delivering a resounding message that we will not accept it that we will succeed in changing minds. So I'm calling for people to respond to the paper and let STP leaders know what they think about cuts in urgent care services.'

"This is a flawed paper which presents damaging proposals for local healthcare. They will harm access to vital care and fail to achieve the sustainability we are all supposed to be working for. The paper identifies that local hospitals are overstretched, but its proposal to address that by reducing key services is illogical and utterly unacceptable.'

"The way to achieve sustainability for our overstretched hospitals is to focus on getting primary care out in the community and social care right. Not by simply taking services away at Bedford or other hospitals and hoping the demand goes away.'

"We have repeatedly called for NHS partners to commit retaining key services, yet it seems they cannot see past a blunt downgrade of vital services which simply won't achieve sustainability."

The STP is nominally a partnership project including Bedford Borough Council. However, Mayor Dave Hodgson and Councillors have called repeatedly for a commitment to retain full consultant-led A&E, paediatrics and full maternity services at Bedford Hospital. Last month there was unanimous support across the Council for a motion which highlighted the lack of engagement with elected representatives to date, and called for those services to be protected.

The paper is available at www.blmkstp.co.uk/publication/blmk-discussion-paper-march-2017/, and includes details of how you can give feedback. The deadline for responses is March 31st 2017.