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Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes: NHS commissioners sign up to innovative review

NHS commissioners for Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire have, from today, signed up to work in partnership with national NHS organisations to undertake a review of local health services with a view to improving healthcare for local people.

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NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group have joined forces because, as well as being neighbours, they share similar challenges. These include issues around sustainable hospital services, growing demographic pressures and the need to ensure safe, high quality services are consistently delivered 7 days a week.

Both CCGs know that facing up to these challenges means adapting and changing the way health services are provided. They are also clear that achieving a successful outcome for this review will be dependent on significant engagement with local communities, clinicians and healthcare providers.

The national agencies, Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England share the concerns raised by the clinical commissioning groups that the current pattern of health and care services may not be sustainable or sufficient to meet the needs of patients in future.

Jeannie Ablett, Chief Officer at Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

The current problems with Bedford and Milton Keynes hospital trusts mean we need to make a change in order to ensure first rate health services for the people of Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire. Our populations are changing and people want health services delivered closer to home. This study will focus on the needs of patients and families and how they might be best served by their hospitals.

Dr Paul Hassan, local GP and Accountable Officer at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

Our aim is to secure a future for our local hospitals. We want to put all options on the table and will go into this review with no preconceptions. However, we are clear from the work we have already done around paediatric services that engaging local people and listening to their needs and ambitions for healthcare will be key to the success of the review.

The national partners will, by early December, appoint a group of experts to work with the local commissioners to engage with local people and find out their healthcare wants and needs. The review will be an in-depth process working with commissioners, providers, healthcare staff and involving the local community in designing sustainable solutions that best meet the needs of patients.

The review will analyse current provision of health services in Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire and the problems that exist currently at Bedford and Milton Keynes hospital trusts. It will present options for how services might adapt and change in the future. Central to the review will be engagement with local patients, patient groups, local nurses and doctors, national clinical experts, local people living with long-term conditions, local politicians and many others.

The review will look at which health services local commissioners feel they need to provide to meet their population’s needs and will assess what the impact could be on patients of any proposed changes in the way health services are provided.

Finally, the review will result in a written report in the summer of 2014. The report will set out the commissioners’ preferred arrangement of health services for the area. It will take into account what people want and what is clinically safe and sustainable for the long-term needs of the population of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.

Jonathan Guppy, Interim Senior Enforcement Director at Monitor, said:

Monitor, along with the national partners, is pleased to be able to support the local commissioners and health trusts in this important and innovative strategic study. It is the first of its kind and will bring together a wide range of expertise from across the health sector.

Monitor is involved because Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is in breach of its licence and predicting financial losses of £17 million this year. Monitor will make regulatory decisions about Milton Keynes Trust, help protect the continuity of essential local services and undertake work to improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the health sector.

The NHS Trust Development Authority is supporting Bedford Hospital NHS Trust to address a range of clinical and financial issues to achieve sustainability.

NHS England is responsible for the 2 local commissioning groups.

Published 6 November 2013