Struggling hospital could have debt written off as part of merger

Bedford Hospital may have its £40m deficit written off as part of a merger with Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

The institute, which received a ‘requires improvement’ rating from the CQC last year, has suffered with staffing concerns and patient safety.

However, more details have come out about future plans, after it was revealed in September that the two hospitals were planning a merger next April.

At a public meeting this week, staff and residents were told the move could wipe out the large debts which Bedford has accrued.

The proposal would see both hospitals come together under one trust while retaining key services such as A&E, maternity and paediatric units at separate locations.

Following the merger announcement, Stephen Conroy, chief executive at Bedford Hospital NHS FT said the decision was essential for securing the security of the hospital after “turbulent and uncertain times.”

“This is a really exciting time for patients and staff, as the opportunities presented to improve patient services is considerable,” he continued.

“A&E, maternity and paediatric services will remain on both hospital sites. This decision will also provide stability and will be the driver to provide the best possible hospital services for all our patients across the whole of Bedfordshire.”

Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS FT has a more consistent record of performance in recent times, with the CQC awarding the hospital a ‘good’ rating last June.

David Carter, acting chief executive at Luton and Dunstable explained: “As a single, larger organisation, with a single management team and delivering a full range of services on both hospital sites, we will have the opportunity to share expertise in order to improve services, improve the delivery of patient care and clinical pathways, and improve efficiency through economies of scale.”

Officials from Bedford Hospital said the move fits in with the objectives of the local STP and has the support of NHS Improvement.

The chief executives of both trusts along with their board members are expected to be taking forward plans and engaging with local stakeholders and staff, with a view to submitting a full business case in December 2017.

Top image: Chris Radburn PA Archive

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