A&E downgrade plans still in limbo for Milton Keynes Hospital

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A&E could still be downgraded at Milton Keynes Hospital – and other health services may be decommissioned too.

The Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes Healthcare Review yesterday produced its latest progress report looking at the future of Bedford and Milton Keynes hospitals.

Both hospitals are currently ‘major emergency centres’, providing 24/7 consultant-delivered A&E, with emergency surgery, acute medicine and inpatient paediatrics.

But the report, which is the latest stage of a £3.2million review, proposes reducing one of the hospitals to an “integrated care centre with emergency centre”.

Andrew Pakes, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for MK South, said the report offered little positive progress.

He said: “The NHS is facing huge budget pressures, with record numbers turning to A&E and longer queues at GP surgeries. Yet nine months into this review we are still no clearer about the proposals.

“It is clear from this report that some difficult decisions remain for NHS services in Milton Keynes, with the hospital continuing to run a big deficit.

“Whilst there is widespread support for integrating services closer to home, the public will not buy this at the expense of local hospital care or privatising provision.”

The Citizen revealed in July that at least one of the two hospitals was set to suffer a major A&E downgrade.

Since then health bosses have ruled out downgrading both A&E departments, but this week’s report admits the dangers for the future.

It says: “Though the financial evaluation shows considerable benefit in both options, it doesn’t show that either is wholly sustainable without further, more detailed work.

“If this analysis concludes there is a residual financial gap... the affected hospital(s) would need to identify 
additional opportunities deliver services more efficiently and/or generate additional income.

“Meanwhile commissioners would need to look at decommissioning other services.”

But MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, says he is convinced the hospital has a “bright future” after a £3million government investment in the expansion of the A&E department.

Mr Lancaster said: “Whilst we are all keen to move forward, I’d rather a considered thought through plan than a rushed decision.

“The recent £2.9m for our A&E clearly demonstrates that Government is committed to fair funding for healthcare in MK and I remain convinced as I always have that our hospital has a bright future ahead of it.”