Bedford Forum’s Earlier Hospital Survey



In recent years there has been continuous talk about Bedford Hospital being downgraded, and important services such as maternity or A&E being transferred to either Milton Keynes or Luton & Dunstable. Currently another official review is being carried out behind closed doors and this is again causing uncertainty about the future of Bedford Hospital. The Bedford public needs to think the issues through before the official STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan) review findings are thrust upon us so that we have an informed and agreed local benchmark against which these official recommendations can be judged.

A number of reviews have taken place, the latest being the Bedford and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review. In response to this, the Borough Council commissioned an independent report from PwC, (Price Waterhouse Cooper) which develops the Integrated Acute and Community Service option. PwC concluded that Bedford Borough’s population is large enough to justify having a local Hospital that should retain and provide key medical and surgical facilities. PwC’s report has in turn been reviewed for The Bedford Forum by a small team of local retired persons formerly involved with the Hospital who are aware of the financial and clinical pressures on the NHS, and of the clinical and medical needs of the local Bedford population.

In general, the local medical experts find that the PwC report is a balanced review, that it fits in well with the new government STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan) objectives, and they recommend that the PwC report regarding Bedford Hospital should form the basis for the future provision of local health care.


Have your say At the end of this introduction, we are inviting you to VOTE on the PwC proposals. You can also make comments about them. The Bedford Forum will then make the overall opinions known to those who are making the decisions on the Future of Bedford Hospital.

Note: The full PwC report runs to 53 pages. You can find it here. With the help of the local medics team we have extracted the key points from the PwC review and we now ask for your opinion on those points.The “STP Footprint” covers the area served by the three hospitals namely, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton & Dunstable.

To assist  you in understanding our review we attach a short dictionary of terms used which you can see by clicking on this link.

It is agreed by our advisory medics team that in order that clinical and medical outcomes are maximised for the benefit of patients it is necessary that some specialist skills are “networked”. A networked skill is a particular specialist skill, (e.g. head and neck surgery, hyperacute stroke care, emergency general surgery), which is centred at one location, (one hospital), which all the STP footprint population access for that treatment. However, we understand that networking infers that specialist skills are shared amongst the three hospitals with each hospital having some specialties, so that all specialist skills and facilities are not centred at just one of the footprint hospitals. Ie. Currently all vascular surgery for the three hospitals is provided at Bedford Hospital.

Summary of the PwC Report in relation to the STP objectives.


The Services that should stay at Bedford Hospital

  1. A consultant led A&E department, as we currently have, (acute medicine and A&E) associated with a Primary Care Led Urgent Care Centre, should continue. Emergency General Surgery cases would, after stabilisation, be transferred to another network hospital.
  2. Consultant led Critical Care, should continue.
  3. Diagnostic services – Radiology and Pathology, should continue, to ensure a safe functioning inpatient medical unit.
  4. Consultant led Maternity (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) services should continue at similar levels as at present.
  5. Consultant led Medical inpatient service should form the core function of the hospital. Focus should be on acute medicine, non-interventional cardiology, respiratory, gastroenterology and geriatrics.
  6. Paediatric services should continue to be delivered in an integrated fashion.
  7. Elective Day case surgery and some Inpatient surgery. Orthopaedic surgical services for relatively straightforward cases (fractured hips, hip and knee replacements) should be maintained.

The Services that would not be available at Bedford Hospital

  1. The 3 hospitals, Bedford, Milton Keynes, and Luton & Dunstable, would be networked. Networking implies co-operative working which could mean, for example, that inpatient work is carried out either at a number of sites or at just one site. Orthopaedics is a good example. All three sites would be expected to do some orthopaedic surgery – especially to cope with the fractured hips, and perhaps hip and knee replacements, but some specialist procedures would only be carried out at one site –e.g. hand surgery, shoulder surgery.
  2. Bedford Hospital would not be classified as a major A&E hospital. So, following assessment and stabilisation at A&E in Bedford, some cases would then be transferred to another networked hospital for surgery/treatment. (This already happens for severe head and chest injuries).
  3. There would be no emergency general surgery in Bedford (for example for ‘the acute abdomen cases’ – appendicitis, obstructed bowel, perforations etc). Modern treatment of these conditions requires that they are now stabilized medically locally, and the patient is then moved to a specialist unit where the surgical outcomes are maximized to the patient’s benefit.


Have your say

Do you support the above proposals for the future of Bedford Hospital services?


FIRST please SELECT an “AGREE” or “DISAGREE” option from the box below.

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Thank You for participating.



Further Information

  1. The team advising Bedford Forum included; retired Consultant ENT Surgeon and former Medical Director Gordon Beeden, retired Consultant Radiologist Rob Oakley and former Chairman of The Bedford Hospitals Charity and Non-executive Director of the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Brian Woodrow.
  2. Bedford Hospital provides services to 270,000 people living in north and mid Bedfordshire. From 2003 to 2013, it was one of the top 40 hospitals in the UK, as recognised by CHKS Ltd. Only six other hospitals have been named in the top 40 for each of these years. In 2012 the hospital performed 37,245 operations, and had 279,188 outpatient attendances by 68,168 patients.
  3. In December 2015, the NHS outlined a new approach to help ensure that health and care services are built around the needs of local populations, and provide improved health and wellbeing, transformed quality of care delivery and have sustainable finances. To do this, every health and care system in England is producing a multi-year Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), showing how local services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years – ultimately delivering the Five Year Forward View vision of better health, better patient care and improved NHS efficiency.