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16 July 2013, 12:19
Sick children in the Bedford area who need emergency care will have to go to Milton Keynes Hospital from August.
Changes have been announced to paediatric services at Bedford Hospital over concerns about the risk to patients.
Bosses have described them as an 'interim measure' after a decision to withdraw junior doctors from the department over worries they are not getting enough supervision from senior colleagues.
There will still be an outpatients' service for children (aged up to 19) at Bedford Hospital but emergency cases will have to go or be taken to Milton Keynes Hospital or the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
From 1 August 2013, the Trust that runs Bedford Hospital say they will, in the short term, no longer provide:
The Trust say they will continue to provide:
The Trust say all other services, including adult A&E, remain as normal.
Bedford Hospital's Acting Chief Executive, Stephen Conroy, said: “I know the strength of local feeling for our children’s services, for Riverbank Ward and our fantastic children’s nurses, and I fully appreciate the impact these changes will have on families in Bedfordshire.
“I am deeply sorry for the anxiety and distress the announcement of these changes will cause.
“It is important to remember that we must take these steps to ensure children’s care and treatment can continue to be delivered safely at all times. We cannot and will not continue to deliver services without the right number of doctors to safely do so.
“These changes do not mean that Riverbank Ward is closing, as we will still be treating and caring for children here. We will not be putting nursing jobs at risk.
“These changes are significant, but we are working to secure a safe and sustainable future for children’s services for local people, here at their local hospital.
“What is of most concern for me now, is making sure families in Bedfordshire know where they need to go and what they need to do if their child becomes unwell.
“Staff will be talking to all families with children who have planned operations or medical care, as well as those with chronic or long-term conditions. We will also be launching a public information campaign to help families understand the changes and what they mean.
“Critically, we are advising families who need emergency (A&E) attention for their child to dial 999 for an ambulance.
“This is a difficult time for families and the local community. Our focus is on making sure care is safe in the short term, and on ensuring long term sustainability for families to access the majority of emergency and planned children’s care at Bedford Hospital.”
Families or young people with concerns about how the changes may affect them should contact Riverbank Ward on 01234 730500.
What will happen from 1 August 2013
If families have a sick child who requires urgent medical attention they should dial 999 for an ambulance.
From 21 July no child will be brought to Bedford Hospital by ambulance.
From 1 August children should not be brought to Bedford Hospital A&E as walk-in patients.
The Bedford Hospital Trust say they have a statutory duty to provide medical care to all patients who come to A&E. As such if a sick child is brought to A&E, paediatric staff in Bedford’s A&E department will see them, stabilise them and arrange their transfer to another hospital (or treat and discharge them if their illness or injury is very minor). Sick children and families will not be turned away from A&E without help.