Important message from CHEK about healthcare

Ken Rogers

To the residents of east Kent

I wanted to write to you about the proposals to reorganise and modernise health care here in east Kent, and especially acute care in hospitals. I also want to encourage you to share your views at the forthcoming listening events prior to the full public consultation next year. The main point in writing in this way is to ensure we all work together to get the best clinical outcome for us all, and to try and avoid conflict between communities. It is very important for us all that when we fall ill, especially acutely, then we should be able to access the highest possible quality of healthcare.

There have been many attempts to improve and modernise services over the past twenty years, and it’s fair to say some have not worked very well! Back in 2002 it was very much agreed that there was a need to centralise some hospital services at a new hospital to replace the K&C. However, the new hospital was not built due to lack of funds. The NHS has tried to manage this ever since, with a poor and inefficient estate coupled with an ever changing and reducing amount of available qualified staff.

In October 2016 the NHS in Kent and Medway produced a draft plan called the “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” to address these health inequalities. The plan proposed centralising services at one main hospital here in east Kent and using the others in a different way.

Early last year CHEK had a chance meeting with a developer, which has blossomed into an offer of building a shell of a hospital in Canterbury at no cost to the NHS. The NHS would be responsible to “fit out” the shell at what would be a fraction of the cost of building a new hospital, using totally NHS money. Following representations to the NHS, including a visit by us to the then secretary of state for health in November 2017 the NHS released two possible options, now known as option one and two. Option One makes the William Harvey hospital in Ashford the main hospital, and keeping another minor A&E at the QEQM.

However Option Two is to move and centralise most services to a major hospital in Canterbury – the centre of east Kent – in a new hospital offered free by the developer. CHEK believes that this is the only way a sustainable acute healthcare can be achieved, given the way services have been redesigned, and firmly embeds the notion of designing and placing healthcare with the clinical outcome at the centre of the decision making.

CHEK would also hope that the new site could include acute mental health beds, and integration of other providers of healthcare, such as a community nursing base. The new hospital coupled with the new Medical School would attract the highest calibre staff to east Kent.

CHEK would want to see all three of the main hospitals continuing to give local urgent care to patients, and look forward, with all of the patients of east Kent, to having a dialogue with the NHS to design a healthcare service that is acceptably accessible to us all.

Ken Rogers

Chair CHEK

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