East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is assessing the possibility of building a new hospital in Canterbury as part of proposals to create one emergency hospital centre with specialist services and a trauma unit for east Kent.
The Trust has a long-term strategy which includes investing in larger emergency departments and co-locating specialist services so that patients are seen faster by teams of experts working together.
The strategy is part of a draft plan aimed at saving health services in Kent and Medway some £292million.
The Health and Social Care Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), created by Kent and Medway health trusts, the NHS, Kent County Council and Medway Council, sets out proposals to reduce ‘the estate’ – meaning the sale of assets and property – and “invest in housing and community facilities.”
The proposal is for one emergency hospital to provide specialist services, A&E, a trauma centre, planned care and maternity with a second hospital offering A&E, maternity and planned care.
A third site would provide planned care, supported by rehabilitation services and an urgent care centre led by GPs.
There would be further development of a Kent cancer centre.
The draft plan says: “The plan puts forward the idea of creating specialist centres for planned surgery such as hip and knee replacements to separate these services from emergency care.”
This could save EKHUFT £90m. The Trust, which this year was brought out of special measures, previously admitted there was a £40 million black hole in its budget.
A spokesman said: “Our current strategy includes reconfiguring services across the Trust’s three acute hospitals in Ashford, Margate and Canterbury. This is our early thinking for how we could use the hospitals we have now, it doesn’t rule out looking at other emerging possibilities, such as building a new hospital in east Kent in the future if that provided the best outcomes for patients and there is the money, support and opportunity to do so.
“The Trust has had an offer from a developer to build the shell of a hospital in Canterbury, this is being assessed to determine whether it has the potential to be included as an option.”
Across Kent and Medway the STP proposes to: “Redesign and align the estate footprint to support new care models , including the disposal of estates asset and exploring funding models.”
The STP report outlines changes that it says will be beneficial. These include more support for people to leave hospital and be cared for in their own home; appointments on time; quality hospital care and better access to advice.
The aim is also to improve mental health services.
The NHS in East Kent is planning to take its proposals out to public consultation in Spring 2018.
Emergency care waiting times
The Trust also says emergency waiting times in east Kent have improved in the last two weeks, one month in to the improvement plan announced by east Kent’s NHS in September.
Data collected by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust shows a 5% rise in the number of patients being seen, treated, admitted to a hospital bed or discharged within four hours over the last two weeks across the emergency departments and minor injuries units.
In the first two weeks of October, East Kent Hospitals’ performance on the four-hour standard averaged at 73.3%. In the last two weeks, the hospitals have seen an improvement in standards, reporting 76.1% last week and 78.7% at the time of release.
Read here: NHS announces 12-month plan to improve emergency care services in east Kent