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22 January 2014, 17:12
999 ambulances can now take children straight to Bedford Hospital’s A&E department - instead of taking them to a neighbouring hospital.
The move has been approved at a meeting between the Hospital, the ambulance service and the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
From Thursday morning, children will be able to be admitted straight to Bedford Hospital.
In December 2013, some services returned, including the 24-hour opening of the Riverbank Children’s Unit and open access care for children with complex or long-term conditions. It now means all childrens services, other than longer inpatient stays, have returned to Bedford Hospital.
Since July 2013, ambulances responding to 999 calls have taken children to the nearest hospital – mainly Milton Keynes and the Luton and Dunstable.
Children arriving at the hospital by ambulance or by walking in will be assessed in the A&E department. They will then be treated and discharged home or transferred to the Riverbank Children’s Unit for ongoing assessment and care.
If it is anticipated that a child will need more than an overnight stay for ongoing treatment they will be considered for transfer to a neighbouring paediatric unit.
Lead Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Andy Raffles told Heart: "This announcement will be welcome news for local families, whose children can now be cared for at Bedford Hospital whether they dial 999, turn up to A&E or visit their GP.
This will help take away some of the anxiety of not knowing where their child might be taken if they needed to dial 999 and means even more care can be delivered locally again, with less travelling for families.
The move also reflects the confidence of our commissioners that we are able to provide safe, high quality and modern paeditatric services for local children."
Stephen Conroy, Chief Executive for Bedford Hospital, said: "I am delighted that we are once again in the position of announcing the return of more services to Bedford Hospital and I am sure local families will be too.
The return to date of virtually all our children’s services has been made possible thanks to the passion and commitment shown by our paediatrics team, who have redesigned and improved our services based on best practice. Our focus now is to build on this progress and to continue to develop high quality and sustainable children’s services for local families."