Plans have been submitted for a £6.5million extension to Bethesda Medical Centre in Cliftonville to create a state-of-the-art health centre.
Planning permission is currently being applied for from Thanet District Council and, if approved, it is hoped the new centre will open in 2020.
The plans, revealed by The Isle of Thanet News last December, are to create a new “one stop shop” for people in Margate which can cater for up to 32,000 patients, allowing them to get medical and nursing services in one place.
The proposal is part of wider plans to create three GP ‘practice groupings’ in Thanet, each serving between 30,000 and 60,000 patients, reported by The Isle of Thanet News in January.
The initiative is part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), created by Kent and Medway health trusts, the NHS, Kent County Council and Medway Council, which sets out proposals to overhaul the health system, including changes to GP surgeries and hospitals.
The STP says extended GP practices will provide enhanced in-hours primary care and enable more evening and weekend appointments and hubs – with an even greater patient capacity – will offer multi-disciplinary teams delivering physical and mental health services locally at greater scale and seven day integrated health and social care.
Original proposals were for four GP groupings – dubbed Primary Care Houses (PCHs) – made up of Quex (the villages), Broadstairs; Margate and Ramsgate.
New proposals reduce that to three by combining the villages and Broadstairs.
The Bethesda centre plans
If approved, the Bethesda centre will include specialist clinics for physiotherapy, audiology, ophthalmology, ultrasound and minor surgery, for patients from Margate and beyond – services which are currently only available in hospital.
The plans are for the centre to also have a gym for physio, an outside gym area, a bigger pharmacy, allotment space, a café and a community kitchen. It would be open evenings and weekends.
The new building will include space for teams of healthcare professionals to meet and to work together, including GPs, nurses, community, social care and mental health professionals and workers from voluntary organisations, where they can co-ordinate treatment for patients with complicated health needs.
The new facility would also provide education and training space for medical staff, which could be used by patient groups too.
Westwood and Ramsgate one-stop shops
Oena Windibank, chief officer for local care for NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Over recent years, local people have repeatedly told the CCG that they want us to provide a one-stop shop where they can get the vast majority of the health and social care services they need in one place.
“They have asked for a more joined-up approach for people with more complicated health needs, and more focus on preventing ill-health so people stay well.
“I am delighted that this new development at Bethesda will deliver what local people have asked for and more.
“We are very lucky in Thanet to have a group of GPs who, in the face of the challenges of a shortage of health professionals and increasing need for services, are leading the way in developing new and innovative ways to provide the right services to people across Thanet.
“They are putting Margate at the forefront of a new type of healthcare which provides far more care and support in people’s own communities, without the need for people to go to an acute (main) hospital.
“We hope to create a similar “one-stop shop” for health and care at Westwood Cross, and to provide more services in Ramsgate too.”
The CCG say up to six GP practices could be based at the new Westwood surgery.
Dr Tony Martin, clinical chair of NHS Thanet CCG and senior partner at Bethesda Medical Practice, said: “Bringing staff from various organisations together under one roof has huge benefits for patients, particularly people with more complicated health and care needs. It will also make Margate a real draw for medical professionals and care staff, who very much want to work together in the innovative ways we are introducing.
“One of my passions is encouraging people to take the best possible care of their health, to reduce years of life lost to illness and disability. The centre aims to give people more chances to take care of their own health, including the outdoor gym, allotment and community kitchen.
“If approved, I believe our new centre will make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of people of all ages in Margate, and of future generations.”
Northdown Surgery is proposing to relocate to Bethesda.
Dr Malgorzata Wolny, from the Northdown Surgery, said: “If approved, this would mean our patients would have access to the expanded health centre being planned on the Bethesda site, with all the benefits that offers.”