‘We’re at the bot­tom of the pile’

Res­i­dents voice their con­cerns to chiefs over lo­cal health ser­vices

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Public Meeting In Northgate - By Matt Le­clere mle­clere@thek­m­group.co.uk @Mat­t_le­clere

Health chiefs were grilled over the per­for­mance of east Kent hos­pi­tals amid grow­ing calls for a new one in Can­ter­bury.

Bosses from East Kent Hos­pi­tals Univer­sity NHS Foun­da­tion Trust and lo­cal com­mis­sion­ing groups faced ques­tions from res­i­dents at a pub­lic meet­ing or­gan­ised by cam­paign group Con­cern for Health in East Kent (Chek).

Crowds filled the North­gate Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on Satur­day morn­ing, with is­sues raised in­clud­ing shock­ing A&E wait­ing times, calls to re­store emer­gency pro­vi­sion to the Kent & Can­ter­bury and plans for a new hospi­tal and med­i­cal school in the city.

Health bosses told those present that de­tails of a shakeup of health­care – known as the Sus­tain­abil­ity and Transformation Plan (STP) – will be un­veiled in a con­sul­ta­tion next spring.

It is likely to sug­gest all spe­cial­ist ser­vices be moved to the Wil­liam Har­vey in Ash­ford, with the K&C of­fer­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices and pre-elec­tive surgery.

Faver­sham MP He­len Whately was ap­plauded for say­ing a new hospi­tal in Can­ter­bury must be in­cluded in the STP.

“A hospi­tal should be in Can­ter­bury with an A&E ser­vice,” she said. “I want to see that as an op­tion in the STP. We need that on the ta­ble.”

Si­mon Perks, the ac­count­able of­fi­cer for the Can­ter­bury and Coastal Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG), said health­care in east Kent can­not stay the same.

“We need to de­liver last­ing change,” he said. “We’ve got a ser­vice at a point where it can­not stay as we are. We can’t flog the same model.”

There is an of­fer on the ta­ble from de­vel­oper Quinn Es­tates to build the shell of a hospi­tal next to the K&C, which the trust says is “be­ing as­sessed to de­ter­mine whether it has the po­ten­tial to be in­cluded as a fu­ture op­tion for hospi­tal ser­vices”.

Liz Shut­ler, the trust’s deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “Un­til we get to the point where we go out to con­sult and know the op­tions avail­able to us we’re not in a po­si­tion to change and in­vest in the site. We’re go­ing to be in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.”

Char­lotte Cor­nell, par­lia­men­tary as­sis­tant for Rosie Duffield, at­tended on be­half of the Can­ter­bury MP, who had a prior fam­ily ar­range­ment. She paid trib­ute to Chek, which she de­scribed as “a loud and proud” group that Ms Duffield was “look­ing for­ward to work­ing with”.

“We’re in a very scary place,” she said. “In our in­box we’re hear­ing sto­ries which are emo­tional and should not hap­pen.”

A pre­sen­ta­tion from Chek, led by mem­ber­ship sec­re­tary Jenny Cole, high­lighted sta­tis­tics show­ing the trust had one of the worst emer­gency wait­ing times in the coun­try and had not hit its tar­gets since 2014.

She said the group feared the changes would mean an end of the K&C “as we know it”, adding: “We are right at the bot­tom of the pile. It’s ab­so­lutely dis­gust­ing. For can­cer care we are down the list. It’s not fair.

“Our vi­sion is for a new med­i­cal school and along with that a new hospi­tal.”

The trust is sup­port­ing calls for a new med­i­cal school, say­ing it will help ad­dress re­cruit­ment prob­lems largely to blame for the cur­rent cri­sis.

Ear­lier this year Health Ed­u­ca­tion England and the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil or­dered the trust to re­move most ju­nior doctors from the K&C be­cause there were not enough con­sul­tants to ad­e­quately su­per­vise them.

It re­sulted in emer­gency pro­vi­sion – specif­i­cally heart and stroke ser­vices – be­ing trans­ferred to Ash­ford’s Wil­liam Har­vey and the QEQM in Mar­gate.

The trust is still at­tempt­ing to

‘We’re in a very scary place. In our in­box we’re hear­ing sto­ries which are emo­tional and should not hap­pen.’


Stephen Perks, ac­count­able of­fi­cer

The meet­ing was held at North­gate Com­mu­nity Cen­tre

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