Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
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.
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.
Local MPs, Alistair Burt and Richard Fuller today gave a cautious welcome to the findings of the independent inquiry into the events that led to the withdrawal of paediatric services from Bedford Hospital last year.
Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller said “Make no mistake, this report is damning in its criticism of persistent and widespread failures by those in responsible positions at the Hospital; failures which directly led to the dramatic changes in services last year. The Hospital was described as having an ‘at best… muted, and at worst non-existent’ response to concerns about training and ‘a complete absence of reference to the standards of medical education and training‘”.
“I am encouraged that December’s inspection of the hospital noted ‘significant improvements’ and I am glad that most paediatric services have now returned to the hospital. But there is still much work to be done and I shall continue my efforts to secure the return of a full range of safe, sustainable and modern paediatric services.”
Alistair Burt MP added “The openness and willingness of Bedford Hospital to accept criticism is a vital part of the process of moving forward. Constituents are entitled to the best and safest care, and the hospital must continue to do all it can to build on the inquiry into an unhappy period, and support the highest standards that all those working at the hospital are keen to deliver.”
On the face of it, the Inspection Report by the Care Quality Commission on Bedford Hospital published on August 29th makes strong criticisms of our local hospital. I wanted to read the details to see the extent of the failings and the causes of them.
The Hospital passed one of the nine standards evaluated, had minor or moderate concerns on five standards and major concerns on three standards. Major concerns related to staffing, supporting workers and assessing and monitoring the quality of service. I was particularly concerned about the criticisms about care for the elderly and for those with dementia.
The CQC’s concerns were quite widespread across the activities of the hospital, and in some areas these concerns were significant. However, there were also positive comments to balance these concerns, and recognition by the CQC that the Hospital did provide good quality care in many cases.
The most frequent criticisms related to issues that should have been addressed by the people in charge of the Hospital’s human resources department: inconsistencies in training, lack of succession planning for replacing consultants, ineffective rosters of staff, staff shortages.
Following so quickly on the problems in providing adequate supervision in the paediatric ward, these further criticisms should focus Hospital management attention on sharpening up its human resources performance. These are manageable problems, but the Hospital has to manage them, not hope they will solve themselves. I will write to the Chair of the Hospital to ask what actions are being taken and will raise this point at the Hospital AGM next week.
Yesterday, David Cameron launched the Conservative Party’s draft health manifesto, which you can read here, Conservative Party Draft Health Manifesto.
The draft manifesto has lots of sensible initiatives that will focus money on the provision of healthcare rather than management and process initiatives.
The draft manifesto also points the way forward to give each of us more power to choose our public health providers, and it does it in a very sensible way, seeing the GP as our guide rather than relying on us as isolated – and, sometimes, ill-informed – “consumers”.
Last year, over 1000 residents in Bedford and Kempston participated in my survey of local health services and issues – a huge response rate and one that indicates how important the NHS is to us all.
A summary of some of the findings from the survey is available here, 2009 Health Survey Feedback.