The Luton and Dunstable Hospital (L&D) has today been awarded a £5.7m funding boost to their A&E department, almost twice that awarded to Bedford Hospital earlier in the year.
The funding – part of a £150m Government boost to expand and upgrade A&Es ahead of the winter flu season – was announced by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, today.
It comes after £450m was made available to 117 trusts in August, during which Bedford Hospital was granted £3m.
Bedford and the L&D hospitals merged in April, with assurances that the Bedford site will retain key services including A&E, Obstetrics-led Maternity and Paediatrics.
However, campaigners and critics warned that Bedford Hospital would be treated as the ‘poor relation’ in the partnership, particularly after it received none of the £99m merger funding.
Commenting on the announcement today that the L&D would receive almost double the investment that Bedford was awarded, Cllr Louise Jackson said, “This is exactly what we feared would happen under this merger and I will not stand by while the Bedford site is starved of investment at the expense of the L&D.
“I do recognise that the trust received £3m earlier in the year, but this is a drop in the ocean.
“The Government need to pull something out of the bag for Bedford right now, and the trust’s management need to refocus urgently, and put some effort into securing funding for our local hospital. We were promised a partnership, yet already it feels like we’re the poor relation.”
Richard Fuller, MP for NE Bedfordshire, said, “Last month, the Prime Minister announced £3m for Bedford Hospital for the provision of same day emergency care services, to expand capacity within the waiting areas in the emergency department and improve patient flow in the hospital to help the NHS respond to winter pressures and the risk from further outbreaks of coronavirus.
“Projects are to be completed by early next year so Bedford hospital can benefit from the upgrades during the peak of winter.”
David Carter, Chief Executive at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said, “We are delighted to receive this funding which will enable us to make significant improvements to our urgent and emergency care services at the L&D site.
“It was previously confirmed the Trust will receive £3m funding to improve emergency care facilities at our Bedford Hospital site which was also great news.
“We continue to work closely with clinical colleagues to transform our facilities to better meet patient needs and cope with the increasing demand urgent and emergency care services consistently experience.
“This funding will not only enable us make significant improvements for our patients but will also help us in preparing for the increased challenges that the winter months will bring.”
Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kempston, said that Bedford Hospital deserved its share of the investment.
“We were told time and again that the aim of the merger with Luton and Dunstable was to get the best out of both hospitals but after receiving nothing from the £100m merger, Bedford has once again been left out of much-needed funding,” he said.
“All hospitals are facing the most daunting winter so the people of Bedford have a right to ask where their share of this new investment is for their hospital to cope with the extra pressures of seasonal illness, a huge waiting list backlog and a second wave of Coranavirus.
“Bedford Hospital entered the Trust in good faith, a faith which is now being tested to its limit. If the merger really was about working together to improve both hospitals, then its time Bedford got a share of that investment.”