Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes CCGs join forces for health review
Health bosses in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes have agreed to join forces to conduct a "whole-scale review" of health services.
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) for both regions said they faced similar challenges such as the pressures of a growing population.
They will work with national NHS groups which will fund the process.
The government's health watchdog, Monitor, said the "innovative" study was the first of its kind.
NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (MK CCG) and NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) will be supported by national bodies Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England to assess the future.
They will look at the current provision of health services and problems exist at Bedford and Milton Keynes hospital trusts.
These include the suspension of children's A&E, planned surgery and overnight observation at Bedford hospital in August over staff shortage concerns.
Later that month, the hospital was heavily criticised in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.
Milton Keynes Hospital is predicting a £17m debt this year.
The CCGs said there was a need to ensure that "safe, high quality services" were consistently delivered seven days a week.
Both have said they know a review means "adapting and changing" the way services are provided as they currently may not be sufficient to meet the needs of future patients.
MK CCG chief officer Jeannie Ablett said current problems with both hospital trusts meant it needed to make a change.
"Our populations are changing and people want health services delivered closer to home," she said.
Dr Paul Hassan, from the BCCG, has denied health decisions are being taken out of their hands and said that it wanted to "put all options on the table".
"Bedfordshire CCG is the statutory body charged to commission the bulk of healthcare services that take place," he said.
"We are responsible for saying what services we wish to buy on behalf of our patients and public so in the end we are the only people who can say these are the services we wish to buy."
The review is due to begin in December.
A report in summer 2014 will set out the commissioners' "preferred arrangement" of health services.