Milton Keynes Hospital could inherit hundreds of extra patients from Bedford as a result of a £3.2 million healthcare review that combines both troubled NHS Trusts.
It could mean the city becomes a centre of excellence and the hospital would be bigger and better than ever before, say Citizen sources.
This week officials admitted every aspect of health care in the two towns will be ‘thrown into the air’ over the next few months in the quest for economies, improvements and shared services.
And at this stage they can give no guarantees that core services such as A& E, maternity, planned care and cancer care will remain the same.
Experts predict it is highly unlikely that any core facilities would close in Milton Keynes. But Bedford could become specialist in other areas and city patients may have to travel there for other treatments and surgeries.
Health watchdog Monitor is funding the review with Government cash. A spokesman said: “Both Milton Keynes and Bedford Trusts are losing a significant amount of money and this is simply not sustainable This review will put everything on the table.”
Bedford Hospital also has “clinical problems”, while Milton Keynes’ troubles are purely financial, he said.
A higher number of patients per costly specialist means increased revenue and a more efficient use of resources for any hospital. Logically Milton Keynes’ modern building on a 60 plus acre site would be far easier to expand than the Bedford’s much-extended Victorian premises.
The Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review comes less than a year after the £2.2 million Healthier Together campaign collapsed without fulfilling a similar remit.
This brings the total health review spending to £5.4 million in the past two years.
Healthier Together looked at sharing services and facilities between all neighbouring hospitals, including Northampton and Luton and Dunstable, with certain hospitals becoming centres of excellence for specific services.
The new review will bring together Milton Keynes and Bedford Clinical Commissioning Groups to encompass not just hospital care but GP provision, care in the community and every other health service.
Private consultants McKinsey and Co have been recruited and already proposals are being prepared. But so far everybody involved is keeping firmly mum about details.
The Monitor spokesman said: “It would not be sensible to rule anything out at this point. As soon as we have a set of proposals they will go out to full public consultation.”
Both Monitor and the Milton Keynes CCGs claim not to know what happened to the much-publicised Healthier Together initiative, whose website now carries the message “no longer being maintained.’
A CCG spokesman said: “This new review is nothing to do with Healthier Together.”
MK hospital chief executive Joe Harrison was optimistic this week. He told the Citizen: “Given that Milton Keynes is the second largest growing city in the country I cannot see a future at Milton Keynes Hospital that does not include an A & E or maternity service.”