Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, has called on local health commissioners to “end the insanity” of a “deeply flawed review of local hospitals that has an almost total absence of local support in Bedford.”
On Wednesday, attending the public session of the first combined Health Review Committee looking at the futures of Bedford and Milton Keynes Hospitals, Richard said “This review has blundered along for years based on bureaucratic inertia, sticking rigidly to an incomplete framework of options and, in my view, indulging ever increasing losses at Milton Keynes Hospital and covering financial embarrassment at their regulator, Monitor.”
Richard challenged the Committee whether even now, after years of waiting and millions of pounds, they knew which services would be commissioned on each site, and whether they knew if there would be sufficient capital for any changes they proposed.
Members of the public at the meeting poured further doubt on the crucial question of patient flows between Bedford and Milton Keynes, which Richard said was one of a number of “serious flaws” that had plagued the review.
Music 4 Memory, part of Tibbs Dementia Foundation, hosted a very special session on Friday when they were joined by over 35 members of the Dunstable Rock Choir and Richard Fuller MP. With over 90 people with dementia, family carers, volunteers, the rock choir and the MP singing, dancing and laughing together, the morning was a joyous celebration and lesson in how to live for the moment and highlighted the wonderfully transformational power of music.
Music 4 Memory meets weekly to give people with dementia and their families a space to sing, dance and have fun together, importantly through performance and inviting other community groups to join sessions. Participants are able to challenge some of the negative stereotypes and misconceptions that still exist with dementia.
Sarah Russell, Chief Executive of Tibbs Dementia Foundation said, “All of our services and especially Music 4 Memory focus on what the person with dementia can still do. There are many losses associated with dementia but what people often forget is that a great deal remains and with the right support and encouragement people can continue to live fulfilled, active and meaningful lives and make a huge contribution to community life”.
Tibbs Dementia Foundation uses a community approach encouraging people with dementia, their families and a large pool of committed volunteers to actively work together to make positive changes for dementia in Bedford.
Richard Fuller MP, having last visited Music 4 Memory 18 months ago, said it was amazing to see how much it has grown and added, “For a local community organisation which is based on volunteers, it makes a huge impact on so many people’s lives. It really is a gold standard charity”.
The idea of creating a Dementia Friendly Community has long been promoted by David Cameron. Richard added, “Tibbs can tell Mr Cameron what works. It is groups like Tibbs across the country that should be leading and shaping what that community should look like. It has to be based on real life experiences, individual to individual, family by family. That’s what Tibbs does”.
For more information about the work of Tibbs Dementia Foundation, please visit their website.
The Come and Go café run by the Tibbs Dementia Foundation in Bedford was officially launched on 16th March 2015. The launch was attended by local MP, Richard Fuller, who welcomed the addition of this excellent resource for people with dementia.
The Tibbs Foundation linked up with the Salvation Army and will be using their cafe environment to offer a relaxed and friendly space where anyone can drop in find out a little more about living well with dementia and gather extra information from a support worker if needed.
People with dementia from the Clear Voices group at the Tibbs Foundation had a major role in developing the idea of the café and in making sure the launch went well.
More information is available via the Tibbs Foundation.
On Friday 5th December, Richard Fuller MP officially opened Bedford Hospital’s improved and refurbished dementia friendly facilities – Harpur Ward and Elizabeth Ward.
One in four hospital beds in the UK is occupied by someone with dementia, and over one third of those over 65 will die with the degenerative illness. However, care and research to combat the disease is still largely overlooked.
Bedford Hospital’s new wards were created as part of a £1 million pound project to create a pioneering specialist environment to support dementia care across Bedford. The diagnosis, care and long term support for people with dementia, and their carers, is a local and national priority for the NHS and Bedford Hospital is pleased to be able to respond so positively.
In particular Bedford Hospital’s dementia friendly wards have been carefully designed to benefit patient’s’ physical and mental health. These innovative ideas include providing comfortable and familiar areas that will lessen anxiety patients often feel when going to and from hospital.
Bedford MP, Richard Fuller, paid a visit to St Joseph’s Lower School earlier this month to open their new school kitchen.
Richard visited as part of a new government policy to give every child in reception and Years 1 and 2 a free, nutritious meal every lunch time. The move will benefit 1.89 million children at 16,500 schools across the country, saving families up to £400 per year and helping children to do better in the classroom and improve their daily diet.
Richard helped serve the school lunch and then joined the children for a delicious meal of chicken fricassée with vegetables and mash.
Richard said: “It has been shown that when children eat a nutritious lunch their concentration and learning is better in the afternoon. I was delighted to open the new kitchen and I am glad that children at St Joseph’s will be able to enjoy a healthy, cooked meal every day.”
After lunch, Richard was interviewed by some of the students who asked him what his favourite school meal was and he said that he had always enjoyed fish and chips at school.
Bedford Doctors On Call (BEDOC) were presented with the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark when Richard Fuller MP recently visited their centre based at Bedford Hospital.
BEDOC is a social enterprise providing out of hours GP services to people in the Bedford area. The Social Enterprise Mark independently certifies that a business or organisation puts profits towards social or environmental good.
Debbie Martin, CEO at BEDOC commented; “We are thrilled to have been presented with this award, it reflects an organisation who have always strived to meet the needs of their patients. Our passion at BEDOC is being in business to use profits to enhance or improve our services. That’s why receiving the Social Enterprise Mark is a great honour for BEDOC. It is an independent guarantee of why we’re in business, how we use our profits and a testament for our future direction.”
Richard Fuller MP was delighted to present the BEDOC team with the Mark at a recent visit he made to the BEDOC Centre. He was a keen supporter of the Social Value Act 2012, which promoted social enterprises, and indeed stated: “Starting up a social enterprise is one of the noblest endeavours that one can undertake… People do it because there is something inside them. It may be creativity, drive and the sense of trying to create something for themselves, their family and their community. It is a noble endeavour, and it is an important endeavour to promote.”
In his column in the Bedford Times and Citizen, MP for Bedford and Kempston, Richard Fuller has set a challenge for the leadership at Bedford Hospital to consider all options for the future.
He wrote, “Will the healthcare review by the local GP led commissioning groups of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, costing £3 million, come up with ideas that we can use?
“Early indications are that useful changes have been identified in how local GP practices can be made more effective. On their own, these proposals should improve access to GPs and to speed up simple procedures such as blood tests. These are good ideas from the review and, I believe, will be supported strongly during the upcoming consultation.
“The headlines, of course, have not focused on GP services, but on the proposals about accident and emergency services at the two hospitals – Bedford and Milton Keynes. Laying out all potential options part way through a review, although exemplary disclosure, naturally raises concerns about some of the more extreme ideas. The GP-led group erred on the side of full openness and, on balance, I think they were right.
“However, unlike with GP services, there has been so much change over the last year at our local hospital that I no longer believe that an answer can be found in a tie-up for Bedford Hospital with Milton Keynes Hospital. There is a new confidence at Bedford Hospital and it is time for them to show leadership in answering the challenge of commissioners about how best to provide services locally in Bedford.
“There is no need for the knee-jerk response that everything should stay exactly as it is now and scaring people with talk of the closure of our hospital – which is not in any plan – does not help anyone.
“If more lives can be saved by looking at safe, modern, sustainable alternatives, then we should look at these. Equally, we should recognise that the review is not ‘the only show in town’.
“Personally, I think the development of a broad, clinical partnership with Addenbrooke’s Hospital could be the right answer for Bedford Hospital. Addenbrooke’s is a trusted, high quality teaching hospital than can help recruitment of doctors to Bedford and provide quality care for those, thankfully few, cases each year of life or death injury.
“Politicians can have opinions and can give voice to local opinion, but leadership should best come from the clinical specialists themselves. So, Bedford Hospital, what is your answer?”
In an article in the Times and Citizen, Richard Fuller MP has encouraged local health chiefs to consider a tie-up between Bedford Hospital and Addenbrooke’s. The link up could allow Bedford to draw on the expertise and skills of Addenbrooke’s to deliver services at Bedford.
Richard said, “Addenbrooke’s is a trusted, high quality teaching hospital that would attract the recruitment of doctors to Bedford and help Bedford to provide quality care for local residents for many years to come.
“I have suggested to the leadership at Bedford Hospital that this could be another option to consider alongside those suggested by the current healthcare review.”
To read the full article, visit: Bedford Times & Citizen: MP’s call to consider alternatives.
In May, Bedford MP Richard Fuller visited the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Furniture & Electrical store. He met the store staff and volunteers and spent a few hours in the Bedford store to learn more about the BHF and the work it does in the local community.
The MP said: “It was great to pop in and meet the dedicated members of staff and volunteers that work at the Bedford Furniture & Electrical store. The BHF is such a fantastic cause and the work they do is vital in the fight against heart disease.
“I’d urge locals to have a root around and donate any unwanted items to the store or give the gift of time by volunteering.”
Craig Fraser Area Manager for Bedford said: “We’re really grateful to Richard for coming in, visiting our store and meeting the team. We’re always looking for support and stock donations, which are absolutely essential to the success of the charity, and play a vital part in fighting coronary heart disease – the UK’s single biggest killer.”
Richard also helped Diabetes UK Chief Executive Barbara Young at their Big Collection on Friday June 13 at Tesco Bedford, Riverfield Drive.
The Big Collection is a nationwide fundraising event for Diabetes UK, which took place in 300 Tesco stores across the UK on 13, 14 and 15 June.
Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive said: “We are delighted that Richard Fuller gave up his time to support the Big Collection with me in Bedford.
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, has expressed his disgust at the actions of local health groups that has resulted in the cancellation of a much needed improvement to mental health services in Bedford.
In 2010, Bedfordshire PCT, the forerunner of local commissioning groups, agreed a contract with mental health provider SEPT that included a commitment for SEPT to invest £17.9m to upgrade the facilities in Bedfordshire and Luton.
In the first three years, SEPT invested £10m in “direct upgrading and re-provision of mental health and learning disabilities services” with the majority of this, £5.9m, being spent in Luton.