NHS bosses are holding a public meeting this month to discuss plans to introduce urgent treatment centres in east Kent by December 2019, as part of a national drive to simplify urgent care.
Urgent treatment centres bring together a range of services for illnesses and injuries that need urgent care but are not a 999 emergency.
The NHS is speaking to patients about early proposals to introduce the centres. The plans were first revealed last year as part of a proposed shake up of hospital services in east Kent. This includes moving many services such as accident & emergency, specialist care, and planned inpatient orthopaedic care (such as hip and knee operations).
There is also discussion over whether to move maternity and children’s inpatient services to a new hospital in Canterbury and options for moving specialist services to either Canterbury or Ashford.
Two options for A&E were published last year. These were:
Option 1 – A&E at Ashford and Margate
Reorganising some specialist services across each of the three hospital sites and using the William Harvey Hospital (Ashford), Kent & Canterbury Hospital (Canterbury) and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (Margate) in different ways. This would mean consolidating specialist services on one site at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, with more day-to-day hospital services provided at Canterbury and Margate.
Under option 1 there would be an A&E at William Harvey Hospital as part of the major emergency centre and an A&E Department at QEQM.
This would be supported by 24/7 GP-led care, including an Urgent Treatment Centre treating illnesses and injuries which are not 999 emergencies, in Canterbury.
Option 2 – A&E at a new Canterbury hospital
Added to the medium options list in October 2017 following an offer by Quinn Estates to build the shell of a new hospital in Canterbury as part of a development of 2,000 new homes. It would involve changes at all three sites, including moving some services currently provided at the William Harvey and QEQM hospitals.
Under option 2 there would be an A&E department for east Kent at the major emergency centre at Canterbury. This would mean that A&E, acute medical care and complex inpatient surgery, which currently take place at William Harvey and QEQM, would relocate to Canterbury.
This would be supported by 24/7 GP led care, including Urgent Treatment Centres treating illnesses and injuries which are not 999 emergencies, in Ashford and Margate.
Caroline Selkirk, Managing Director of east Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “We have already carried out public surveys and spoken to patient groups, local organisations, GPs and NHS staff about our plans to introduce urgent treatment centres in east Kent.
“But before we finalise our plans we want to give the public another opportunity to talk about them. We want to know what they think about the benefits of such a service or to raise any concerns they have about the proposals.”
A public meeting to hear about and comment on the urgent care centre plans will take place on Tuesday, February 26 at The Pavillion Suite, Canterbury Cricket Ground, Old Dover Road, Canterbury, from 10am until 4pm.
A spokesman for the Save Our NHS in Kent (SONiK) campaign said: “SONiK is concerned that Urgent Treatment Centres will not address the direct needs of Thanet residents. UTC’s are being proposed as providers of GP appointments, but will not necessarily be staffed by GP’s, only GP led.
“This reduces continuity of care by moving GP services away from surgeries and also promotes the model of centralisation for emergency care, which is currently unproven. An UTC will never be a replacement for a full A and E.”
County councillor Karen Constantine has written to Ms Selkirk urging her to hold a further consultation in Thanet. She said: “Many of our population find it hard to travel and it is also costly for many. I think given the current situation with regard to our NHS services in Thanet, the Stone unit decision in particular, a consultation should be held here in Thanet, in an accessible venue which is on the Loop bus service.”
The public can register by emailing: email@example.com or calling 03000 424348.
If people are unable to attend but wish to comment they can email firstname.lastname@example.org