Poor response to NHS deal with Calais hospital
Health campaigners say patients should be seen in our hospitals - and not shipped out to a multimillion pound site in Calais.
It comes amid mounting concerns a deal to let people cut waiting lists by having operations, on the NHS, in the French town is under utilised.
The Centre Hospitalier de Calais opened in 2012 and was designed to have additional space in order to cope with the growing local population.
But while it had the additional capacity, it struck a deal with NHS chiefs in Kent to allow patients to come over and use its services at no cost.
With no waiting times, it means GPS can refer patients for vital operations in just days or weeks. As part of the deal, the hospital invested in signs in English and trained doctors and nurses in English medical terminology.
But take-up has been slow leaving many to question why the facility is not being used to help relieve the strain on the Kent & Canterbury, QEQM in Margate and William Harvey in Ashford.
Ken Rogers, chairman of Concern for Health in East Kent (CHECK) said: “It is an option and if people are on a long waiting list for, say, a hip replacement and are in pain they could go. But you have to pay for your own transportation - we don’t send ambulances there.
“The hospital in Calais is very good but we shouldn’t be in this situation.”
The French hospital signed an agreement with the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) from January 2016. The CCG covers Dover, Sandwich and Deal.
But it allows any GP in the Can- terbury and Coastal CCG to refer patients to the hospital, which is just five minutes drive from the Eurotunnel terminal.
However, in July it was revealed just two patients had been treated there.
A spokesman for the hospital revealed they saw 10 more patients during the remainder of last year but were expecting a bigger response in light of the pressure on our health services during the winter months.
Thaddee Segard, hospital spokesman, said: “We had in mind and were prepared to receive more patients. I must say the hospital management was surprised so few patients and GPS took this options in view of the waiting list in Kent. The Calais hospital can easily receive 400 British patients per year without having any particular disruptions for their own local patients.”
Over the last two months, more patients have been taking advantage of the option with 20 referrals in the last two weeks, and two operations scheduled for February.
And Mr Segard hopes for more. He added: “As a NHS provider, the Calais hospital remains an option for GPS to send their patient. The hospital is available for helping to reduce the waiting line for patients.”
‘We had in mind and were prepared to receive more patients’
CHEK campaigner Ken Rogers, left; Center Hospitalier Calais, above