Richard Carr, chief executive of Central Bedfordshire Council and lead for the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, said: “The STP set out plans last year which envisaged all hospitals in the region coming together to design and deliver the best possible clinical and support services for local residents.
“In support of those plans, Bedford and Luton and Dunstable hospitals boards of directors have decided to formally collaborate through a proposed merger. Bringing the two hospitals together will enable specialties to be managed as a single set of services, but delivered at both hospital sites. As well as benefitting patients through better clinical models of care; bringing services together is also expected to make some financial savings.
“There is the possibility that the proposed merger could take place as early as April 2018. However, this is subject to a formal approval process and there remains a great deal of work to do before any confirmed date can be given.
“While this work is ongoing, STP partners are continuing to develop new and improved ways of supporting and delivering community, primary and social care to the hundreds of thousands of people living in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes University Hospital will continue to operate as an independent NHS Foundation Trust, working closely with the other two hospitals and with health and care partners in Milton Keynes and the wider STP. A further formal collaboration involving all three hospitals is likely to be considered in the future.
“We know that working to prevent ill health and providing rapid access to joined-up primary, community and social care can make a fundamental difference to the health and wellbeing of our residents. We are developing a diverse range of initiatives and interventions – from social prescribing, where GPs can help link patients who do not really require medical assistance to other sources of support in their local community – to primary care homes, where health and care staff come together as a complete care community.
“We are committed to working across all health and care sectors to end the artificial divide between organisations. Our overriding aim is to work together to improve health and care services and focus on improving health and wellbeing of residents in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes.”