The government has announced £19.5 million in funding for projects by the NHS in Kent and Medway – including £2.5million for the extension of the Bethesda Medical Centre in Cliftonville .
The project, which will have a total cost of £6.5million, aims to create a state-of-the-art health centre where GP, nurse and community services will be provided to the growing local community.
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.
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, which will double in size, would also provide education and training space for medical staff, which could be used by patient groups too.
The project had also secured £2 million from the Estates and Technical Transformation Fund.
Tony Martin, Clinical Chair of the NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions healthcare across the district, said: “We were extremely pleased to hear this news which will help us in our bid to drive plans forward for patients.
“Our plans at the Bethesda site will help us to provide integrated primary and community care for our growing local community. We will be able to offer an enhanced range of services with increased opening hours.
“Bringing health and care services all under one roof makes things easier for patients, with them not having to go over their stories several times and also developments like this are a real draw for medical professionals and care staff, which will help with recruitment problems we sometimes experience.”
Isle GP plans
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 the villages, Broadstairs; Margate and Ramsgate.
New proposals reduce that to three by combining the villages and Broadstairs (Westwood)
The funding , announced today by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt, will be split between five projects across Kent and Medway.