Hospital Services Could Be Shared

Patients could soon have to travel a lot further to access specialist hospital services, as NHS budgets are cut.

Heart's found out talks are underway about potentially sharing services between the hospitals in Bedford, Northampton, Kettering, Milton Keynes and at the Luton and Dunstable.

Bosses say it makes sense to pool their resources, especially when it comes to services only used by a few patients, like those for stroke patients.

By putting the service in just one or two of the hospitals, bosses say they can improve the service for the entire region.

"Without a doubt, there are some specialities that every hospital in the area doesn't need to provide," said Bedford Hospital Medical Director Ed Neale.

"There aren't enough patients to warrant everyone having a service but we may need to provide that service in two, three or four hospitals, or even one.

"If we have a single stroke service across the area or possibly two or three, we will be able to use the ambulance service to get people to the highest level of skills."

A public consultation on any changes is due to take place later in 2012.