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GP Newsletter

Paul Tisi Joint Medical DirectorWelcome from Paul Tisi, Medical Director

Welcome to the Winter 2023/2024 edition of GP Matters.

It has been another challenging year as we continue to try to recover from delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also had to cope with further periods of industrial action, with the latest round of junior doctor strikes having just come to an end.

There is no doubt that industrial action is continuing to put a strain on our services, with appointments having to be rearranged to ensure we can continue to provide emergency care for the most seriously ill and injured patients, as well as maternity services and care on the wards.

Despite the pressures placed on the NHS, our staff and volunteers continue to demonstrate outstanding commitment to providing high quality care to all that use our hospitals.

Please continue to encourage patients to help us by using our services wisely and only attending our Emergency Departments if it is a life-threatening emergency.

Best wishes and happy reading!

Paul Tisi
Medical Director

Digital referral update for Bedford Hospital’s MSK Physiotherapy Department

Bedford Hospital’s MSK Physiotherapy Outpatient Department is updating the way they receive GP referrals which sit outside the scope of the Integrated MSK Pathway.

With immediate effect, patients aged 18 or over requiring referral to the physiotherapy outpatient service at Gilbert Hitchcock House, Bedford, for the following services should be referred digitally via SystmOne – TPP module BHT MSK Physiotherapy:

  • Pelvic health physiotherapy service
  • Physiotherapy vestibular service
  • Hand therapy service intervention for those patients with neurological conditions

Please note, all referrals within scope of the current Integrated MSK Pathway should continue to be directed to Circle Healthcare.

Group photo of attendeesStrep B trial at Bedford Hospital reaches incredible 1,000 participant milestone

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is also known as Strep B and 1 in 4 pregnant women/birthing people carry it, usually without knowing. If you have Group B strep whilst pregnant, your baby will usually be healthy, but there’s a small risk it could spread to your baby during labour and make them ill (1 in 1,750 pregnancies) and an extremely small risk that you could miscarry or lose your baby.

The GBS-3 trial, led by Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit (NCTU) and funded and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), is testing a new way of screening expectant parents for Strep B to find a way to reduce the risk of harm to babies.

The national trial compares different types of screening to assess whether this reduces the risk of Group B Strep infection in newborn babies, compared with current standard testing. This will help researchers determine the best time in the pregnancy to administer treatment.

This important trial launched at Bedford Hospital in March 2023 and as of November 2023, 1,000 participants have been recruited. This momentous achievement is thanks to the joint efforts of both the Maternity and Research & Development teams working in partnership.

In July 2023, Principal Investigator Liliana Grosu and then Research Midwife Alexandra Gurton even held the position of 2nd best recruiter in the UK for the GBS-3 trial!

At Bedford Hospital, women/birthing people are offered an antenatal swab which is processed in the lab and if the test is positive, they are offered antibiotics in labour.

During the dedicated celebration event for this milestone held on 18 January 2024, the team shared the wonderful news that there are now 1,220 women and birthing people registered. A new target of reaching 1,350 participants by March 2024 has been established.

Tara Pauley, Head of Midwifery at Bedford Hospital, said: “I am so proud of all the team’s inspirational motivation to support research in the clinical setting. This important national research trial has been such a success due to everyone’s commitment across a number of departments, and will further add to the evidence base for best outcomes for babies.”

Lead Clinical Research Nurse for Bedfordshire Hospitals, Melchizedek Penacerrada, said: “After a long and arduous journey into GBS-3, I’m so pleased and humbly honoured, not only that we have reached more than a thousand participants in this research trial, but most of all that we have an opportunity to have had a huge part in saving babies’ lives.

“I cannot thank our Trust Executives, Communications, Maternity, Microbiology and Research teams enough!”

Dr Muhammad Nisar, Director of Research & Development, said: “It has been fantastic to support such an important study at Bedfordshire Hospitals! The team worked tirelessly and achieved an incredible feat. What’s impressive is that it has led to change in service design with huge potential to deliver better clinical care – this is what research is about. Well done to everyone involved and we look forward to achieving the next milestone.”

Redevelopment update

External ASB and NWB construction area - Dec 2023Acute Services Block and New Ward Block at the L&D

Work on the acute services block and new ward block continues to progress with a number of internal works now underway with pipe installation, door installation, wall closure and the first coats of paint being applied.

A number of lifts have now been installed, the external cladding is complete with the removal of scaffolding now underway.

Hear from our teams who are excited to be moving into the new buildings…


Stephanie Doyle, Quality Lead for Theatres: “The new theatre suite and pod floor are set to bring lots of positive changes for the team and patients.

“We look forward to working in a brand new building that has been purpose-built, with input from our management teams.

“Two new state-of-the-art hybrid theatres will mean new ways of working; learning and delivering the most up-to-date techniques for vascular surgery.”

Critical Care

Elmarie Mancilla, Critical Care Senior Sister: “The new critical care unit will increase critical care capacity in an improved clinical environment.

“There will also be a resource room, dedicated to study, learning and education, providing staff with a suitable space to carry out research, confer with colleagues and write papers.

“A new critical care balcony for the patient and staff, where they can breathe some fresh air is very welcome.

“We can’t wait to move in!”


Dr Jennifer Birch, Clinical Director for Neonatal Services: “We are very excited to move into a new, purpose built Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which will maximise our intensive care and high dependency capacity in a more spacious unit, which has been co-designed with service user input.

“We are so pleased that there will be better facilities for our families, including more space for comfortable reclining chairs at the cot side, enhanced and expanded facilities for expressing breast milk, two new en-suite rooming-in rooms to help parents prepare for taking their baby home and a co-located Transitional Care Unit.”


Tracey Scivier, Redevelopment Lead Midwife: “The maternity ward sisters have visited the site and are in high spirits as the wards are spacious and bright, ensuring a lovely environment for our service users, their families and our staff. They are very excited about the move!”

Social value

As part of the programme, we have worked closely with our construction partner Kier, to ensure we maximise social value opportunities.

Kier have employed 446 apprentices since the start of project, and continue to recruit staff local to the area.

The team regularly visit schools to deliver talks, upskill their own staff and donate gifts to Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Charity.

Energy Centre exterior - August 2023Energy Centre at the L&D

The Energy Centre will deliver combined heat and power to the hospital estate, delivering a substantial reduction in energy consumption, supporting the Trust’s drive to Net Zero Carbon and support plans and developments for the future.

Benefits of the project have already kicked in and the final go live will be at Easter.

Emergency Department upgrades at the L&D

In our last update we were delighted to announce the opening of our brand new Emergency Department entrance and waiting area, a dedicated paediatric area and nine new major cubicles.
These new, modern and enhanced facilities have made a significant difference to patient dignity and experience, as well as allowing staff to provide outstanding care in the very best environment.

The final phase of works is well underway, which once complete, will see the expansion of the department where there will be a further increase in capacity, including assessment and triage rooms and sensitively designed mental health care rooms.

A map of the plans for the CDCNew £24million Community Diagnostic Centre and Primary Care Facilities in North Bedford set to enhance patient care

Patients, staff and local people are set to benefit from a £24million project that will improve access to healthcare and vital diagnostic tests, helping to diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and stroke more quickly.

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will begin construction on 18 March 2024 as they transform Gilbert Hitchcock House into a community diagnostic centre (CDC) that will become a one stop shop for diagnostic tests, checks and scans.

The aim of the new centre is to ensure that patients who need diagnostic tests will be seen sooner and in a vastly improved environment. It will significantly increase testing capacity in Bedford by around 50%, making it quicker and easier for patients to access potentially life-saving tests for a wide range of conditions, including cancer, heart and lung disease.

The building will house therapy services, phlebotomy, and a wide range of diagnostic services including MRI, CT, ultrasound, x-ray and physiological measurement tests (such as ECGs for heart conditions), amongst others. Patients will be able to access these vital tests in a more convenient location, without the need to attend busy hospital sites, which means shorter waiting times and a reduced risk of cancellation which can happen when more urgent hospital cases take priority.

We hope to complete work on the CDC in early 2026.

Construction work on the same health site in North Bedford will also see the development of a primary care hub in the Enhanced Services Centre (ESC) in North Bedford. This is part of a £4million investment which will see the co-location of a number of De Parys GP practices and a number of community services. This will support patients in benefitting from improved access to high-quality primary care services. Building work for this part of the project commenced on 19 February and is due for completion towards the end of 2024.

Moorfields refurbishment at Bedford

To enable the redevelopment of North Wing, we have moved Moorfields Eye Clinic to our South Wing main hospital site and refurbished their clinical and staff areas, which will help to expand their specialist eye clinic services and address waiting list challenges. As part of these works, we have refurbished a number of different rooms into new vision lane and injection rooms, as well as improving their staff office spaces, storage facilities and well-being areas.

These works help to increase Moorfields capacity and significantly improve the environment patients get treated in and staff work in.

Garden projects at Bedford

As a result of the installation of the new HV substation located outside of Beeden House, we relocated the original garden and created Cherry Tree Garden in 2022, a beautiful space providing a peaceful place for staff, visitors and patients to relax in.

Now the HV Substation work is complete, we plan to convert the adjacent courtyard space into an additional garden area to help improve both staff and patients’ facilities and well-being opportunity. We are currently in the design phase of this new project, but the scope of the works include installing a new seating area, sleeper beds with a variety of plants, trellis fencing and potential memorial pieces.

Trust Master Plan

In summer 2023, the Trust completed the Master Planning of the Estate at both Bedford and the L&D sites.

The aim was to create a single master plan that brings together capital planning requirements and creates an aspirational view of how the Trust envisions and needs the sites to be developed over the next 20 years, to provide modern healthcare facilities and to support the enablement of the Trust’s Clinical Strategy. We look forward to sharing these plans in the near future.
Keep up to date with our plans by visiting the website.