Poor re­sponse to NHS deal with Calais hospi­tal

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - News - By Jodie Nes­ling jnes­ling@thek­m­group.co.uk @jo­di­enes­ling

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’

Pic­ture: Chris Davey FM4965630

CHEK cam­paigner Ken Rogers, left; Cen­ter Hospi­tal­ier Calais, above

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