A shake-up of hospital services is “inevitable” according to Milton Keynes Hospital chief executive Joe Harrison.
The health chief spoke to the Citizen this week, following last week’s report that one or both of Milton Keynes and Bedford Hospitals will have a “major downgrade” of their A&E department as part of a £3.2million review of healthcare over the two sites.
But Mr Harrison is confident that the changes are following the right process to get the best results for local healthcare.
He said: “I agree that there needs to be change. We want to deliver as much care as possible closer to home, and all the clinical evidence is that when a patient has a complex medical problem they should be seen at a centre of excellence.
“If you look at what is happening already, both in Bucks and in other parts of the country, everybody is moving to a view that you need really good local hospitals plus centres of excellence.”
Health services across Milton Keynes and Bedford are undergoing a review led by the two areas’ Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The review initially looked at 36 options, which have now been reduced to 14 choices with all of them requiring one or both hospitals to have A&E services reduced.
The review will be trimmed down to three or four options later this month, and will then go out to public consultation.
Mr Harrison pointed to the ongoing developments at the hospital as evidence of his faith in the future, including the Citizen’s campaign for a new A&E department.
He said: “Nobody is talking about closing hospitals here.
“We are continuing with the development of the medical school, we are continuing with the work on A&E, and we are negotiating with Oxford University about the cancer centre. There are excellent things going on at Milton Keynes Hospital and we are continuing with that work.”
And Mr Harrison added that plans to merge Milton Keynes and Bedford Hospitals, which were scrapped last year, were not part of the review.
“Organisational form is one thing that has, rightly, been off the table,” he said.
“The review has deliberately not looked at that. It has been about providing the best medical service for the people of both towns, and only then looking at the organisational structure.
“But that’s not to say it isn’t an option for the future.”