East Kent Hospitals £460m funding bid for service improvements rejected by government

Hospital trust

A bid to government for £460million to transform health care in east Kent has been rejected.

The funding from the government’s New Hospitals Programme  had been earmarked to radically improve services in east Kent but East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust – which oversees hospitals including Margate’s QEQM – has now been informed that the bid has been denied.

It means there is now uncertainty over how the Trust will go forward with its  hospital transformation proposals, which had two options – the creation of a new “super” hospital in Canterbury or expansion of emergency services at the William Harvey in Ashford and QEQM in Margate.

Both options would result in a removal of some services from Margate’s QEQM with the Canterbury proposal meaning a loss of Margate’s A&E to be replaced by an urgent treatment centre.

However, the first phase of a multi-million-pound expansion of the emergency department at QEQM was completed last November featuring a new children’s emergency department, large new treatment areas for adults, dedicated areas for patients with mental health needs, a new entrance for patients and waiting area.

The Emergency Department facilities at QEQM Photo EKHUFT

It also included staff facilities, dedicated spaces for clinical teaching, staff rest areas and work spaces.

The second phase of the department’s transformation included extensive renovations within the existing department  to create a new rapid assessment area and more areas for patients with mental health needs and the third phase is to expand and renovate the resuscitation area.

K&C Hospital

The Canterbury “super” hospital plan had been for a facility built on farmland next to the ageing Kent and Canterbury Hospital, in Ethelbert Road.

Developers Quinn Estates had proposed to build the shell of the hospital for free as part of a wider housing development of 2,000 homes on surrounding land, with the NHS having to find the money to equip it.

The five-storey building would have hosted a major emergency unit for east Kent, with specialist services such as heart and stroke care centralised in the city.

The alternative option was to improve and expand existing A&E services at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital. Under this option QEQM would retain an A&E.

Planning for the changes stretches back to 2017.

Kent & Medway health chiefs said the aim was to provide better care for patients, improve working conditions for staff and help meet the 2050 net zero carbon targets.

A Pre-Consultation Business Case (PCBC) was approved by Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust’s Board in July 2021.

However, county councillors were told in December 2021 that the programme could not move forward to formal public consultation on the options until approval of Treasury funding was secured.

The funding would have been used for:

  • New wards, operating theatres and inpatient areas
  • Clinical support services such as outpatients, radiology, pathology, audiology and pharmacy services
  • Specialist service investment in areas such as renal, urology, vascular, endoscopy and NICU (neonatal intensive care unit)
  • Funding for diagnostics, tests, and scans and to support wider hospital infrastructure.

At the end of 2021 the Trust calculated that at least £211m capital investment was needed to maintain safe services over the next five years, if the bid for £460m was not successful.

This included essential upgrades to the estate and equipment including £60 million required to expand and refurbish the maternity units at QEQM and William Harvey hospitals. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust that it must make immediate improvements to its maternity services following an inspection in January which saw the service’s rating drop from requires improvement to inadequate.

Niall Dickson, Chair of East Kent Hospitals said:  “It is extremely disappointing that East Kent has been denied the critical investment we need to create the modern hospital services local people need and have a right to expect.

“Every pound spent fixing aging buildings and equipment is better invested in improving standards for patients.

“We will work with our staff, public, partners in health and social care and politicians to draw up a set of priorities for investment and continue to maximise future funding opportunities.”

The Trust is seeking £60m investment in a separate bid for the improvement of maternity units.

County Councillor Karen Constantine said the rejection was “terrible news” and questioned what the impact would be.

She said: “We need to understand the full, short and medium and long term impact of this decision. How will this impact the recruitment and retention of staff, particularly those clinicians in areas where we have shortages, obstetrics and midwifery for instance.

“What are the plans for major trauma? Are we still dependent on London to provide this and what does their capacity look like?

“In line with population growth can we meet the increase in beds required?

“What is the current condition of buildings? What is the scale of repairs needed? Is there sufficient budget?

“What is the direct impact on maternity services, which is especially important given the recent Kirkup Inquiry.”

‘Significant fall out’

Rachel Jones at the December 2021 meeting

In December 2021 Rachel Jones, who was then executive director for strategy at Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG),warned of significant fall out if the funding was not approved.

She said backlog maintenance requirements in East Kent Hospitals would rise to unprecedented levels over the next five years and 78% of Trust buildings would continue to need significant investment to meet modern standards, costing at least £121m just to catch up with basic maintenance required on the buildings,

She also predicted a loss of up to £600m of economic impact to east Kent’s businesses; and said the opportunity to create up to 400 jobs (up to 7,800 ‘job years’2 ) across east Kent would be lost.

Additionally she said more than half of beds would still be provided in old fashioned ‘nightingale’ wards, the opportunity of developing over 570 ensuite rooms and bays would be lost and more than 1,200 inpatients would continue to be transferred between hospitals each year, to get access from more than one specialist team.

A spokesperson for Save Our NHS in Kent (SONiK) said: “SONIK has challenged these plans to ‘transform’ A&Es in east Kent because they would have reduced vital NHS services, leaving locals with longer ambulance journeys and fewer highly trained staff to care for serious emergencies.

“The details of the plans were never provided in full to the public – we have been waiting to see the details for the last six years. We’re glad neither of the two options for urgent care (including A&E and maternity) will now go ahead, but we will carefully scrutinise any new plan that arises.

“We would prefer to see an A&E and full maternity care provided with good levels of staffing in each of east Kent’s three district general hospitals – QEQM, William Harvey and Canterbury – and we will continue to push for that. We will also be asking questions about how this affects the proposals for Kent’s acute stroke services.

“Another big question is the staffing crisis. According to the RCN 75% of nursing shifts are short staffed. Every day health care professionals are bombarded with adverts from New Zealand, Canada, Dubai tempting them to lucrative jobs with better terms and conditions. Many take up those offers. With 12,000 doctor vacancies and 50,000 registered nurse vacancies in the NHS, this should be the government priority.”

New Hospital Programme

The New Hospital Programme was set up in 2020 to build 40 new hospitals in England by 2030, with a further 8 schemes to be added.

However, eight of the 22 larger hospital rebuild projects have been delayed while seven others are now being prioritised and the government says it will now be a “rolling” programme going beyond the 2030 target date.

45 Comments

  1. Did we expect anything else from this government, the government said the services in Kent hospitals need to improve , so the hospitals asked for the cash to do this and the government said NO ,No more to say !!!

  2. Maybe we should now stop sending money to Kings in London and invest it down here then. And stop accepting all the patients from London that they dont want to deal with.

    • You’re aiming at the wrong target SeeSee. The problem is funding across the country, courtesy of this appalling Conservative government. £460 million isn’t a lot more than the average hedge fund boss earns in a year, and a hell of a lot less than the tax saving they get from a loophole which treats their earnings as capital gains, which costs the exchequer (i.e. us) around £11 billion. If the rich paid the same tax rate as the rest of us the government wouldn’t be short of money to fund the health service, social services, public transport etc etc.

      • Well obviously the money we send to Kings is nowhere near £460 million. I was just mentioning it as why should we cooperate with London if they wont help us. Its almost as if they want us to depend on them and not have adequate services down here.

        If the high earners were taxed the way you wanted them to be they wouldnt stick around would they?

  3. Boris promised 40 more NEW hospitals.tories never put their money where their mouths are,never trust a tory

  4. Boris promised 40 more NEW hospitals.tories never put their money where their mouths are,never trust a tory

  5. The idea that there could be no A&E in Thanet is extremely worrying.
    QEQM is 9 minutes away from my home.
    Canterbury is > 36 minutes, and William Harvey almost an hour.

  6. Who on earth is supporting the closing of A&E in Margate?!?

    It’s bad enough that we the maternity issues and a poorly performance from our trust…. Don’t remove A&E.

    Disgusting.

    As for the 450m – I wouldn’t give this trust huge sums of money. I’d want to see real change first. Throwing money at it won’t change the clear issues at the top.

    • To shut A & E at QEQM is madness as there is over 100,000 residents in Thanet , with many more during the summer months. Better supervision would be an ideal to aim for as even if there are 2 or 3 waiting to be seen it can take up to 4 hours ☹️☹️☹️

      • Too mamy residents in Thanet, and a council that keeps allowing new homes and housung estates to be built on farm land. Otnos time to stop the London migration as the medical services in Thanet can not cope with the numbers already here.

        • The number of houses that TDC has to build is determined by the Government.

          I’m sure that there is no correlation between the huge house building programme that’s going on and Michael Gove (housing minister) receiving a £100,000 donation from a wealth property developer.

    • Correction, thanet is mainly labour, re mays elections when labour took control of THANET council, thanet tory mps rely on herne bay and sandwich to remain as mps.

      • Local council and not MP’S. Local council doing same for years down in Thanet, whichever party domination.
        Let’s see how Labour get on shall we??
        Not holding out any hope.

    • Not a tory stronghold, margate for example has all 7 Labour councilor in Salmestone, dane valley and margate central, a county councillor and a Labour mayor . Roger gale only remains because of tory herne bay.ramsgate similar

      • MrLewis – exactly where I would expect Labour Party support. As for a Labour Mayor, a shoe horn position for flavour of the month for which ever party controls local council. Mr Gale remains as he is democratically elected by a majority, whether you and I like it or not. Maybe people are fearful of the alternatives on offer?

        • Fedub, 6 years ago margate had only one district councillor compared with all 7 now, roger gale has decided not to stand in the new thanet (east) seat prefering to stand in herne bay.FACTS not my opinion

  7. I joined the NHS in 1967 retired 2006 in that time I’ve seen numerous local hospitals units both general and mental health closed all to the detriment of the local population and patients some of whom have passed away as a result of the constant ping pong of health services in East Kent area the conservatives have done their utmost to run the NHS into the ground with the help of the private companies that have wormed their way into the health service with the governments help to leech off the taxpayers NOT for the benefit of patients but for the benefit of their shareholders. Disgusting Tories.

  8. QEQM is not exactly a beacon of excellence.
    Stroke poor.
    Maternity poor.
    A&E next to bottom.
    Time to stop worshipping it. Needs urgent reform.

  9. Those disgusting Tories paid your wages for a mere 39 years then. It was those Tories that dreamt up PFI but sadly it was Labour ( Blair & Brown ) that piled into it . Private Finance Initiative funded lots of new hospitals that proved ruinous for many obvious reasons that are still an onerous debt to this day. The Tories may have underperformed but I bet Labour will top the Tories on underperformance as they have a great track record and are experts on how to leave a note to say there is no money left but loads of debt ☹️

    • What a load of bollox. Tories didn’t pay her wages, the public did. Tories have spent 14+ years trying to pay her less. Tory debt now far worse than ever labour, but they don’t have the imagination to leave a joke memo on exit. And as for Boris Johnson – hooray the lying cheat has finally hit the dust.

  10. I spent last weekend in QEQM . Emergency admission. It was excellent. I had not expected to be kept in so was completely unprepared but that matters little when you are seriously ill. The use of modern technology, the team work, the comfortable appropriate uniforms, the modern building and fit out, the emphasis on learning and monitoring of standards for the staff were all impressive . My medical care whilst in the ward attached to A and E was thoughtful,
    thorough and effective and I now feel better than I have for several years. Why can Thanet not retain this high quality service? We should expect the best, we need it. ‘Local’ services are vital.

  11. If the A&E shuts in Margate hopefully all its regular users will move to live in Ashford or elsewhere, I’m quite sure there are many who don’t really need to go there at all.

  12. The system needs systemic reform. One of the reasons so many people present at A&E is because getting a Doctor’s appointment in their own surgery is nigh on impossible. So they take the next option which clogs up the hospital.

    Huge slashing of mental health funding over the years means the police and NHS have to pick up the slack in that system.

    Huge slashing of local government budgets over the years means we pay more and services get slashed.

    See the theme here ? If anyone on here seriously thinks they are doing a positive thing by voting Tory they need their heads examined.

  13. I spent 10 days in qeqm last year I could not fault anything. Food was good. Nurses on the go full time.

  14. When I read all these aggressive comments (and biased information) coming from Labour voters I do no longer wish to be part of them. This fascist style “we are Ubermensch’s, the Tories have never done anything right” really disappoints me and even frightens me. We have a Tory government because a majority of voters want them. We lost and reading the comments here, I’m afraid we’ll lose again. Destroying all achievements of a previous government doesn’t make any sense. We must build together. United against the challenges of the future. Not left Vs right.

  15. Forgive if I’m wrong but didnt Thanet have, Ramsgate Hospital, The Sea Bathing Hospital, Margate General Hospital ( now QEQM ) one in Wilderness hill in Margate, and, I expect I missed some. So the population of thanet has grown, and is still growing, with the prospect of new housing, but the hospitals and healthcare had deteriorated.
    This has happened over decades of all governments, so one political party is not to blame. Maybe the Residents of Thanet should stand up against whatever government, local government, and Town councils, are in power and say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    • Paul link, when the Health Authority closed Ramsgate Hospital we were PROMISED
      Margate A & E would stay open for the whole of Thanet to use. Shocking both from the Labour & Tories.

      • You have just answered the question. No politician, or political party can be trusted. They are all in it for what they can get out of it.

  16. Almost correct. You missed Haine Hospital ( now the sheds at Westwood X that have crucified our towns. Hill House Hospital at Minster . Both long gone ☹️. There is a Section 106 or 10? that should be able
    to be used to ensure the developers put money into the infrastructure to provide better roads shops , doctors , sports facilities etc etc . Why is this not happening ??????

    • You are correct. I now remember them both. In response to your question, in my opinion, all the developers, who mainly are not local, want to do is line their own pockets.

  17. Perhaps Thanet’s lazy GP’s will now see patients face to face again instead of still using Covid as an excuse for not seeing patients.

  18. I can only agree with the praise given about A&E in QEQM.
    In the last few days ,a condition that my wife has recently found to be worsening, caused us to (reluctantly) go to A&E.
    Yes, there were queues and the waiting room was full of very sick ,unhappy, sad people. And we waited for nearly 8 hours for all the examinations and tests and for the results to come back. WAY too long! Like a long-haul flight in an overcrowded jet plane full of “the halt and the lame”

    BUT,BUT,BUT the staff were excellent, endlessly patient but also thorough, explaining what was going on and what we were waiting for. They knew their stuff. They were on the ball. Always kind and concerned.
    The next day, we returned for (to be honest) another long wait in a ward while other tests were carried out and we had to wait for the results.
    BUT my wife now has the medication that she needs to deal with her condition. And follow-up appointments arranged to monitor progress.
    Shortly before, she had been unwell and had rung the GP. She only got a telephone call after seeing a nurse and providing initial tests.
    She was told to wait for a referral to arrange a hospital appointment, with an expected wait of 18 to 20 weeks!!!
    Because her condition had then suddenly worsened, we had gone to A&E and ,by doing so, we got the start of the treatment that she needed.
    In fact, one of the A&E doctors remarked that the GP could have done all this !!
    I believe that there is nothing wrong with the training, skill, dedication and kindness of the NHS staff.
    We just need MORE of them! At every level. So there are enough GPs to be able to see patients as soon as possible.
    And enough A&E staff to be able to see all the people who turn up there. In an acceptable time period.
    Not to mention more pharmacists to analyse all the vital blood tests that get taken by A&E staff.
    The NHS is being deliberately defunded. To make the ill and desperate pay privately. Bits of the NHS are being privatised before our eyes but we don’t notice as their company logos always contain “NHS” as part of the company name. Private companies need excess profits to survive so more and more of our taxes ,earmarked for health, get creamed off the top and not used for our health at all. They are the profits and dividends of the health companies.
    “Wicked Tories?” Yes, I think they are very wicked indeed.
    But I also know that Wes Streeting , the next Labour Health Minister if Labour gets elected, is already in receipt of donations from private health companies and has said that the NHS will need the input from private companies.
    So our health service will continue to be drained of vital funds even if we change the faces in Westminster.
    It’s a mistake to think that we can change things for the better just by electing a different Party to power.
    In the end, it’s down to us, the people.

  19. Last time I travelled to Canterbury Hospital from Ramsgate it took me 75 minutes due to road works are we in Ramsgate to be issued with a blue flashing light to enable a speedier journey time when they close A & E in Ramsgate.

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