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1 August 2013, 11:27
Changes to emergency care for children have officially come in at Bedford Hospital, prompted by safety worries related to staffing.
The changes mean seriously ill children will no longer be treated in Accident and Emergency at Bedford, and will have to be taken to Milton Keynes Hospital or the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
Children with minor injuries will still be able to go to Bedford Hospital's A&E for things like x-rays and stitching of wounds, but if they need to be kept in hospital overnight, they will have to be transferred to another hospital.
The changes have been brought in after junior doctors were withdrawn from Bedford Hospital's Riverbank Ward. They were pulled out over concerns they were not getting enough supervision from senior colleagues, and this was making things unsafe.
Bedford Hospital bosses say these changes are temporary, and the situation will be kept under review.
Bedford Hospital will continue to provide children’s outpatients services, a day unit facility and nurse-led care for children with chronic or long-term conditions.
Around 50 children attend Bedford’s A&E department every day, with approximately five needing to be admitted to hospital for further care.
The Riverbank Ward admits around two patients each week for planned overnight care. Around 290 children use the open access system at Riverbank Ward for ongoing care. These families have been contacted directly by the hospital to explain what changes to services mean for them.
Acting Chief Executive, Stephen Conroy, said: “We are listening to local people and doing as much as we possibly can to minimize the impact changes to children’s services will have on families in Bedford while ensuring the safety of patients.
“We have agreed with Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England, that we will continue to provide a service for children with minor injuries in A&E after 1 August.
“This means children can be seen and treated for minor injuries that cannot be dealt with by a GP - for example, stitching a wound or taking an x-ray.
“Children who need observation or admission to hospital will still be transferred to Milton Keynes Hospital or another neighbouring hospital as Bedford will not have a children’s assessment unit or inpatient ward.
“The advice to parents is still to dial 999 if their child needs emergency care, and to use GP surgeries or out of hours GP services for routine health care and as a first port of call for minor injuries and illnesses.
“I am pleased we are now able to keep A&E open for children who need treatment for minor injuries, although clearly the changes to children’s services at the hospital from 1 August remain significant. We continue to work with health partners to find a sustainable solution for delivering all paediatric services safely.
“We will continue to listen to and involve local people in what is happening, and will be doing as much as possible to inform families about changes to children’s services at the hospital.”
For information about how changes to services may affect your child’s care you can call Bedford Hospital on 01234 730500.