If you've not done so yet, don't forget to sign the petition to save Bedford Hospital from downgrading and severe service cuts. You can find it here: www.savebedfordhospital.org.uk . NHS plans under the 'Healthier Together' review of hospital services in the South East Midlands could mean downgrading for Bedford Hospital and a reduced A&E role, no trauma unit, no emergency surgery, no complex surgery and no obstetrics for high risk births. We need to speak with one voice as a community and make sure these plans do not become a reality for our local hospital.
I wrote about the launch of the campaign in my latest monthly column for the Times and Citizen newspaper last week. In case you haven't seen it, here it is:
Current NHS plans could mean the end of Bedford Hospital as we know it. The 'Healthier Together' programme has been reviewing healthcare services across five hospitals in our area, and its proposals place our local hospital under serious threat of being downgraded, with key services reduced drastically.
We all have experience of Bedford Hospital locally, whether through care received personally or by friends and family. Under these plans, travelling considerable distances for treatment or to support friends and relatives would become far more common, as crucial services such as A & E and maternity services are likely to be reduced here in Bedford. The removal of an obstetric-led maternity service, for example, would mean many more children having to be born away from Bedford, bringing extra strain for new parents and their support networks of family and friends.
Two 'models' have been selected for consideration under the review, both of which will see two of the five hospitals severely downgraded. Bedford Hospital is under such serious threat because it is one of the two smallest hospitals amongst the group, which also includes Kettering, Northampton, Milton Keynes and the Luton and Dunstable Hospitals.
I'm all for hospitals working together and reviewing the way services are provided, but quite frankly these plans at present boil down to little more than the simple idea of sacrificing services at two hospitals, possibly including Bedford, in order to protect a comprehensive range at another three. And that's just not acceptable.
Public consultation on proposals is to come, but if we are asked to simply choose between two options which would both see Bedford Hospital severely downgraded, it will be too late. That's why I want everyone to come together now and establish a united front, across party political lines. We need to show as a community that we value Bedford Hospital and local services. Please sign the petition at www.savebedfordhospital.org.uk and join the fight to save Bedford hospital as we know it.