At a meeting of Bedford Borough Council on Wednesday (20th July) Councillor Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, spoke out about fears that a second review into public health and hospital services in the area was once again ignoring the views of the politicians and public involved.
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan, announced in January this year, has now linked Bedford Hospital, Milton Keynes Hospital and Luton & Dunstable Hospital into a ‘footprint’ including the respective councils in the area. It produced its first draft proposals on 30th June, but leading members of the Borough Council have not been allowed to see it.
Louise said: “I am told that the draft submission for the overall plan was not for sharing, and neither the STP Programme Board nor NHS England have provided me with a copy.”
The now suspended Bedford & Milton Keynes Healthcare Review, which put forward unpopular proposals in June including a hospital model for Bedford with greatly reduced maternity and paediatric services is now a ‘work-stream’ of the STP. The STP is led locally by Pauline Philip, who is Chief Executive of Luton & Dunstable Hospital, and is keen to expand the services there.
At the Full Council meeting it was also revealed that NHS England had not invited representatives from either Bedford Borough Council or Milton Keynes Council to discuss the STP plans at a special meeting taking place this Friday, despite inviting representatives from Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough councils. The Chief Executive had written to ask why this had happened.
Louise continued; “The report we commissioned on Bedford Hospital proved it is possible to retain full maternity services and paediatrics, and additionally takes into account the fact that NHS services and social care services need to work together in order for both to be affordable to the public purse. Are the STP considering this option? If not, why not? It is outrageous that elected members appear to have been shut out of these discussions. After wasting millions on the unworkable Bedford & Milton Keynes Healthcare Review, the Sustainability and Transformation Plan now risks delivering a proposal that will also deservedly gain no public or political support.”