Health commissioners will hold eight public events to discuss potential options for how future hospital services might be organised in east Kent.
At the events, between October 30 and November 20, doctors and other leaders from east Kent’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which plan and pay for local health services, will talk about ideas for services to improve urgent, emergency and acute medical care (including A&E departments), specialist care, and planned inpatient orthopaedic care (such as hip and knee operations).
Commissioners are looking at two options for urgent, emergency and acute medical services in east Kent.
Currently the three main hospitals – at Ashford, Canterbury and Margate – each provide different services, with A&E departments at Margate and Ashford and an Urgent Care Centre at Canterbury. A range of specialist services are located at different hospitals. For example, the trauma unit is located at William Harvey Hospital, and inpatient kidney services are at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
NHS professions and the East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) say there is a body of evidence that shows specialist services, such as stroke, trauma, vascular and specialist heart services need to be centralised and located together.
OPTION 1: Organising services at the three main hospitals in different ways
This potential option is to have two emergency hospitals with 24/7 A&E departments, of which one would have the full range of specialist services. In addition, the third hospital would have a 24/7 GP-led urgent care centre, treating urgent illnesses and injuries that do not need to be seen by A&E doctors.
Based on the number of people in east Kent and the staff available to treat them, national guidance shows that there could be two full A&E departments in east Kent.
One of the two emergency hospitals would also be the centre for highly specialist services in east Kent (such as trauma, vascular and specialist heart services).
This potential option is the result of looking at all the possible ways that services could be organised across the three main hospital sites in east Kent. By applying a set of criteria, developed by clinicians and tested with the public, and taking into account national guidance, the NHS has arrived at one viable option for organising urgent, emergency and acute medical services. This is:
- William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, as a major emergency centre with 24/7 A&E department and the centre for specialist services in east Kent;
- Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM), Margate, as the second emergency hospital, with 24/7 A&E;
- Kent and Canterbury Hospital as the 24/7 GP-led Urgent Treatment Centre.
OPTION 2: New development at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital
This potential option is a new build connected to the current Kent and Canterbury Hospital, which would be a single major emergency centre for all of east Kent, with one 24/7 A&E and all specialist services at the same hospital (such as trauma, vascular and specialist heart services).
This option would mean that acute services (such as A&E, acute medicine and all specialist services) would move to this site from the QEQM Hospital and the William Harvey Hospital. Instead these sites would have 24/7 GP-led urgent treatment centres, as well as diagnostics (such as X-ray and CT scans), day surgery, outpatient services and rehabilitation.
It has been possible to consider and include this potential option because developer Quinn Estates has offered to donate to the NHS land and the shell of a new hospital which it would build adjacent to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, as part of a development to build 2,000 new homes.
Subject to planning permission and capital funding, this provides the opportunity to fit out new hospital buildings and still use parts of the existing Kent and Canterbury Hospital. This would be less than half the cost of building a new single site hospital on green belt land, which was ruled out as a possible option because there is not enough national funding to pay for it and it would take too long to build.
Other hospital services
Restructuring plans include more care for people closer to home, delivered by local teams of health and social care professionals, working in GP surgeries, health centres and local communities, so that for day-to-day care and treatment, some people won’t have to go to hospital as they sometimes do now.
Six potential options for planned inpatient orthopaedic care services
The waiting list for planned orthopaedic operations has risen by 75 per cent in four years. In the last three years, there has also been a fourfold increase in the number of operations cancelled on the day they were due to take place because the bed was needed for an emergency patient. Providing this service differently will cut waiting times and improve outcomes for patients.
There are six potential options for where the service could be located in the future:
- only the Kent and Canterbury Hospital
- only QEQM Hospital
- only William Harvey Hospital
- both the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and William Harvey Hospital
- both the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and QEQM Hospital
- both the William Harvey Hospital and QEQM Hospital
Caroline Selkirk, Managing Director of the four NHS clinical commissioning groups in east Kent, said: “These informal meetings with local communities, ahead of any formal public consultation next year, are a chance for local people and organisations representing patients to hear more about our work so far, and to help us understand the potential impact of the options we are currently looking at.
“We want to continue to gather a range of insights on the latest phase of our work. What people tell us will be considered by the joint committee of east Kent clinical commissioning groups, before it decides whether both potential options for changes to hospital services go forward to public consultation.”
Save Our NHS in Kent spokesman Carly Jeffrey said: “We’ll want to ask under what circumstances will the people of Thanet be taken to the MEC at Ashford rather than QEQM (under Option 1), and what will the MEC at Ashford have that the QEQM won’t.
“We’d also like to confirm that there will still be a full public consultation on A&E, and when it will start.”
More information about the proposals will be added to www.kentandmedway.nhs.uk/eastkent shortly and an online survey will be open from mid-October.
Tuesday 13 November
6.30pm – 9.30pm
Ravenscliffe Suite, Pegwell Bay Hotel, 81 Pegwell Road, Pegwell CT11 0NJ
Tuesday 20 November
10am – 1pm
The Lido, Ethelbert Terrace, Margate CT9 1RX