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Ambulances for children make a return to Bedford Hospital

22 January 2014

Ambulances responding to 999 calls can now bring children straight to Bedford Hospital’s A&E department instead of taking them to a neighbouring hospital.


The return of ambulances was approved at a meeting between health partners on Tuesday evening (21 January 2014) and the ambulance service has been given the go-ahead by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to take children to Bedford Hospital from tomorrow (Thursday 23 January 2014).


The latest announcement by the Trust follows the return of other services in December, which included 24-hour opening of the Riverbank Children’s Unit and open access care for children with complex or long-term conditions. It now means all children’s services, other than longer inpatient stays, have returned to Bedford Hospital.


Until now, ambulances responding to 999 calls have been taking children to the nearest hospital – mainly Milton Keynes and the Luton and Dunstable. Following the latest announcement all children can now come to Bedford Hospital if they need urgent or emergency care – whether following a 999 call, a visit to a GP or via open access services arrangements.


Children arriving at the hospital by ambulance or by walking in will be assessed in the A&E department. They will then be treated and discharged home or transferred to the Riverbank Children’s Unit for ongoing assessment and care.


If it is anticipated that a child will need more than an overnight stay for ongoing treatment they will be considered for transfer to a neighbouring paediatric unit.


Lead Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Andy Raffles, said: “This announcement will be welcome news for local families, whose children can now be cared for at Bedford Hospital whether they dial 999, turn up to A&E or visit their GP.


“This will help take away some of the anxiety of not knowing where their child might be taken if they needed to dial 999 and means even more care can be delivered locally again, with less travelling for families.


“The move also reflects the confidence of our commissioners that we are able to provide safe, high quality and modern paeditaric services for local children.”


Stephen Conroy, Chief Executive for Bedford Hospital, said: “I am delighted that we are once again in the position of announcing the return of more services to Bedford Hospital and I am sure local families will be too.


“The return to date of virtually all our children’s services has been made possible thanks to the passion and commitment shown by our paediatrics team, who have redesigned and improved our services based on best practice. Our focus now is to build on this progress and to continue to develop high quality and sustainable children’s services for local families.”


Anne Murray, Director of Quality and Safety at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is great news for local children and families. The decision has been made after careful monitoring of the safety and we are now confident that high quality services can be offered locally for children requiring emergency treatment. We will continue to monitor services to ensure that the children receive the service they deserve.”


For further information contact Scott Swinton, 07920 233047, scott.swinton@bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk

Notes to editors


Summary of Services Available at Bedford Hospital (21 January)


A&E services

  • If parents dial 999 their child will be taken to A&E at Bedford Hospital
  • Walk-in A&E services for children with illness or injuries


Children (0-16years old) will be assessed in the A&E department, and then either:


  • Treated and discharged home;


  • Referred to the Riverbank Children’s Unit for ongoing assessment and care. (The child will then either be discharged home, referred to a specialist centre or referred to a neighbouring inpatient paediatric unit if a longer period of inpatient care is required);


  • Referred to a neighbouring inpatient paediatric unit if it is anticipated that the child will need more than an overnight stay for a longer period of treatment.


Note: If patients aged 16 to 19 are brought to Bedford Hospital’s A&E department and need to be admitted, it may be onto an adult ward with support from paediatric staff if required.


Children’s short stay assessment

Riverbank Children’s Unit is now open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provides children’s short-stay assessment for GP referrals, referrals via the hospital’s A&E department and for children with complex or long term conditions (through open access services).


Children are assessed, treated on the unit and their discharge planned with their parents or guardians. If we think a child will need more than an overnight stay for a longer period of treatment then they will be transferred to a neighbouring children’s unit.


Open Access Services

Children with complex or long-term conditions can now get their ongoing care and treatment at Bedford Hospital through our open access services.


Families with open access care arrangements can contact the Riverbank Children’s Unit to access care and advice from a paediatric doctor.


If a child needs hospital care then they will come to the Riverbank Children’s Unit. If we think the child will need more than an overnight stay for a longer period of treatment then they will be transferred to a neighbouring children’s unit.


Day Unit Care

·         Same-day (planned day case) medical care

·         Elective (planned) day surgery

·         Follow-up support for children who have been treated at a neighbouring hospital. This increased assessment or day unit service means that children can be discharged earlier from neighbouring hospitals, receiving on-going care and support in Bedford

·         Nurse-led ambulatory care.


Outpatient services

·         Rapid access clinic, where children may be seen at relatively short notice by a senior paediatrician. Children will need to be referred by their GP

·         Full outpatient services

·         Specialist phlebotomy service (taking blood for testing).


Maternity and Neonatal services

These services have remained unchanged and are fully operational

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