The Government’s scandalous ‘40 New Hospitals’ pledge was exposed again last week as a falsehood when just before Parliamentary recess the Health Secretary confirmed that Bedford Health Village – which would see inpatient health beds brought back to Bedford – was again put on the back burner.
We learned last week, in the Department of Health and Social Care’s review of the New Hospitals Programme and the expressions of interest that only eight of the 40 hospitals (excluding the other eight promised in 2020) would in fact not be complete by 2030 as promised.
And some of the hospitals would not in fact be new builds at all but refurbishments and upgrades of existing sites – a major blow to those trusts and their local communities.
I’m devastated that the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) expression of interest to join the new hospitals programme for Bedford Health Village development has not been successful. They join 122 other bids, including the planned Mount Vernon Cancer centre in being rejected for funding by the Government.
Ever since becoming the MP for Bedford and Kempston in 2017, I’ve been fighting with partners from ELFT for the return of inpatient mental health beds to Bedford Borough, so I’m extremely disappointed that the Government has once again refused to proceed with their funding alongside the ELFT Investment of around £37m to meet the ever-rising demand for modern mental health services for adults and children across the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes integrated care system.
At the moment patients have to travel miles to access life-saving services, usually following a long wait for assessment and treatment. It’s heart-breaking how long children and adolescents are having to wait to access Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services.
We have a mental health epidemic amongst adults and children in the UK and the Government’s answer is to cut services. The Tories are a disgrace – they stood on a manifesto promise of at least 40 new hospitals and the best we’ve got is possibly eight – and some of them are refurbishments.
This is proof if ever it were needed that the Tories aren’t interested in the mental health of our nation and are content to let young people suffer when everyone knows early access to services is not only the best but the cheapest solution.
ELFT is exploring other options, though in their words “this is not straightforward.” ELFT is also at present concluding a second phase of work with architects to look at design considerations in the context of construction industry inflation and the impact on overall costs which they expect to conclude later in June.
I will support the East London Foundation Trust in any way I can to carry on the fight for the mental health services our town should have but ultimately, we need a Labour Government to give mental health services the investment they desperately need.
This is a monthly guest column provided by Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.