The chief clinical officer of Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group appears to have ruled out a radical reconfiguration proposal for its acute services that would downgrade Bedford Hospital to a GP led facility with no beds.

The controversial idea was one of five options outlined to patients by the CCG at a stakeholder event last month.

Commissioners stressed all five options were “theoretical models” and could alter before they are put out to public consultation later this year or in early 2015

Paul Hassan, the CCG’s chief clinical officer, told HSJ: “I personally cannot see myself standing up in front of patients and proposing a hospital for Bedford that does not have maternity services, an accident and emergency, and inpatient beds.

“As a GP, I want what is best for my patients and the people of Bedfordshire, but we have to go through all the available options and discuss them.

“Two of the options on the table are currently scoring higher than others, but this absolutely does not mean that these are our preferred options – we are still working through the figures and there are many factors to consider.”

He added said the review “hasn’t finished yet”.

“The models that are currently on the table for consideration are theoretical models that we need to further consider”, he added.

Dr Hassan’s intervention follows opposition to the plans from local politicians.

Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson told a local paper: “We are facing proposals for a brutal dismantling of Bedford Hospital as we know it.

“We need to stand up as a community and fight them every step of the way,” he added.

The proposals follow Monitor review of health services in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, which it described in December 2013 as an attempt to avert “significant problems ahead”.

A group of representatives from the two local CCGs, Monitor, NHS England and the Trust Development Authority begun a joint review to consider options across both health economies in December.

The group narrowed their options from 36 down to five in July.

Its final options will be presented to the CCG boards in August.

The CCG boards may then make further changes before they go out for public consultation later this year or in 2015.    

Either Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation Trust or Bedford Hospital faces being downgraded under the five options outlined.

Under the highest scoring option in the review document, Milton Keynes would remain intact while Bedford would be downgraded to an “integrated care centre”.   

Such a centre would not carry out emergency surgery or obstetrics and paediatrics, focusing instead on low risk activities, the presentation said.

Under the second highest scoring option, Bedford would be even further downgraded to an “urgent care centre”.

Urgent care centres, the presentation said, would be GP-led; have no in patient beds; no emergency surgical patients and would only be open for 12 hours a day, the presentation said.

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