Bedford Hospital crisis: inquiry will be held

Parents attended an emergency meeting to find out how the crisis in children's services would affect them

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An independent inquiry has been set up to investigate concerns over the safety of children at Bedford Hospital.

Some services for patients aged under 19, including A&E and planned surgery, will be suspended from the end of July.

Bedford Hospital NHS Trust's decision came after junior doctors were removed due to concerns over their supervision.

Fiona Wilson, chair of the hospital trust, said she was "committed to reinstating the services as soon as possible".

Health Education East of England (HEEoE) said medical trainees were removed from the hospital because they feared a child would be harmed.

It was announced on Monday that children's A&E, planned surgery and overnight observation after emergency treatment, would be suspended as an interim measure.

From 21 July, no children will be taken to Bedford Hospital by ambulance. All emergencies will be taken to other hospitals, such as Milton Keynes.

Over 6,500 people in four days have signed a petition opposing the closures and Bedford MP Richard Fuller called for an inquiry.

'Local voice'

At an emergency meeting of the council's Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday, Fiona Wilson said the hospital acknowledged there had been "issues around clinical supervision".

"I am personally committed to fixing this," she said.

Health Education East of England

The Local Education and Training Board covering Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex:

  • Leads the planning and development of the healthcare and public health workforce.
  • Ensures it has the right skills, behaviours and training, and is available in the right numbers.
  • The seven trainees withdrawn from Bedford Hospital were qualified doctors, registered with the GMC, training to become paediatric specialists.
  • They will all be relocated to alternative departments or settings by 31 July.

She said an inquiry would be carried out in the autumn by an independent health research body.

Acting chief executive Stephen Conroy said the hospital board needed to know whether the problem concerning supervision involved one consultant or one department.

"A review has to find out what happened, what was the cause of it what we can do to fix it and then we can apply that learning across the organisation to avoid this happening again," he said.

Mr Fuller said he hoped there would be a strong local voice in the inquiry,

"We need people who can speak up for Bedford and speak up for patients so I will be pressing the hospital to include this," he said.

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