Children's A&E suspended at Bedford Hospital

Acting Chief Executive of Bedford Hospital Stephen Conroy the number of child emergency admissions was relatively low

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Accident and emergency services have been suspended for children and people under 19 at a Bedfordshire hospital.

The interim measure by Bedford Hospital NHS Trust follows the withdrawal of junior doctors because a shortage of senior staff to train them.

Children's planned surgery and overnight observation after A&E treatment have also been suspended.

Clinics will continue as normal, acting chief executive Stephen Conroy said. He also apologised for the situation.

The changes were brought about by a decision by Health Education East of England and the General Medical Council to withdraw junior medical trainees from the hospital's paediatric department from 31 July.

From 1 August, the trust will no longer provide overnight inpatient care on Riverbank Ward, planned medical procedures or care.

Children will be cared for by their Bedford consultant at Milton Keynes Hospital or another neighbouring hospital.

'Sorry for anxiety'

Children brought to hospital by ambulance will go straight to the next nearest hospital.

The trust will continue to provide all children's outpatients clinics and nurse-led care for those with chronic or long term conditions.

Care following planned day-surgery will continue. Maternity services and neonatal services are unaffected.

Mr Conroy said: "I fully appreciate the impact these changes will have on families in Bedfordshire.

"I am deeply sorry for the anxiety and distress the announcement of these changes will cause.

"We cannot and will not continue to deliver services without the right number of doctors to safely do so.

"We will still be treating and caring for children here. We will not be putting nursing jobs at risk."

Decisions were taken following a series of "risk summits" led by NHS England, and involving the NHS Trust Development Authority, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, the East of England Ambulance Trust and other local hospitals.

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