A “deeply flawed” healthcare review into twinning Milton Keynes and Bedford hospitals is behind schedule and over budget, it has been claimed.
And an MP is urging local health bosses to “end the insanity” and scrap the entire exercise before more public money is wasted.
Carried out by Milton Keynes and Bedford Clinical Commissioning Groups, the review was launched in 2014 and predicted to cost £3.2million.
But already the cost is around £4.5million - and rising.
This week was revealed that travel analysis work involving ferrying patients between the two hospitals needs to be re-done by costly consultants.
The review seeks to save money in the future by pooling resources between the two hospitals, which both currently face large budget shortfalls.
It could mean one hospital becomes a major Accident and Emergency Department while the other loses many A & E resources.
Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart said: “The delays to the local Healthcare Review have worried me and I know many have become concerned with the growing costs. I strongly believe that it is important we plan strategically on how the NHS can best deliver services though it must not be allowed to blow its budgets and deadlines taking vital resources away from the frontline. I will be asking for reassurance from the Healthcare Review team and the CCG.”
Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson, concerned that his hospital will be the one to lose out, this week also blasted the overspend.
“News that the costs have risen adds insult to the harm it has caused in threatening vital services,” he said.
He added: “The fact that work carried out by consultants paid £3.2 million is having to be re-done is frankly scandalous. It illustrates the wasteful nature of this entire process, which at every stage has appeared intent on delivering a major downgrade, in spite of the needs of patients and the wider community.”
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, said: “This review has blundered along for years based on bureaucratic inertia, sticking rigidly to an incomplete framework of options and, in my view, indulging ever increasing losses at Milton Keynes Hospital and covering financial embarrassment at their regulator, Monitor.
“I am urging local health commissioners to end the insanity of a deeply flawed review that has an almost total absence of local support.”
The review is due to go out to public consultation this summer and be completed by the end of the year.
A spokesperson for the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review said: “The first phase of the Healthcare Review cost £3.2m and was funded by Monitor. The new joint Healthcare Review Programme, established in November 2015, is forecasting a spend of £1.36m for the 2015/16 financial year, which is in line with what’s been budgeted for in the CCGs’ financial plans.
She added: “It’s true that we’ve needed to refresh and build on some of the analysis carried out in the earlier stages of the Review, but it’s important that we make sure we have the most up to date information so we can make accurate, informed decisions.”