Busy drop-in event for Westwood Health Campus plans and proposed move of The Grange GP surgery

Dr Fraser Newton and Practice Manager Julie Hill from The Grange were on hand to answer questions

Scores of people visited a drop-in event in Ramsgate on Thursday (February 1) showing plans for a proposed Westwood Health Campus.

The event, at the Royal Harbour Academy upper site, had representatives on hand from developer Quinn Estates, The Grange medical practice and Clague Architects.

Quinn Estates wants to create a medical centre, a 70 flat extra care/assisted living building, an 8o-bed care home, two retirement blocks consisting of 90 self contained flats and a children’s nursery at land off New Haine Road at the rear of Westwood Sainsburys.

The medical care facility has been earmarked as the new premises for The Grange GP surgery which is currently based at the Montefiore Medical Centre in Dumpton Park Drive. East Cliff GPs, also at the Montefiore centre, will not be moving out of the premises.

The Grange surgery is running a consultation asking for views on its part in the development.

Display board at the drop in event

Julie Hill, Practice Manager and Non Clinical Partner at The Grange says it is vital to get more space.

She said: “We are running out of space. We have staff working from home some days because there are no rooms, doctors are working one or two days from home and have to do admin at home because the room is needed by another clinician. Our education and training room is now being used as an office and staff meetings are held in the waiting room.

“We are doing a lot more face-to-face, about 60% of appointments, but if we had more room to put people, 60-70% of appointments could be face to face.”

The current surgery, on the lower floor at the Montefiore Medical Centre, has been in use by The Grange since 2006 and the need for more space has been apparent since 2015.

The surgery has had to stop running ‘tea and chat’ events aimed at reducing loneliness and with 38 staff already trying to make the best of facilities, it makes recruitment of more clinical staff logistically difficult.

GP Surgery Image Clague Architects LLP

The planned new surgery would have more space for staff, patients, better seating and bathroom facilities, and room for group consultations. There would also be increased capacity for services including physiotherapy and ultrasound and minor surgery as well as room for other health organisations and groups and possible shared facilities with other GP surgeries.

The surgery’s diabetic lead Dr Fraser Newton, who currently has to work one day a week from home as well as completing admin away from the surgery, said: “Having a purpose built, more modern building will mean having different services that we can’t do now.

“We are looking at developing and improving the diabetic service and having group consultations. We will pilot the diabetic group and then look at groups for conditions such as asthma and COPD.

“The room could also be used by the voluntary sector and other health organisations.”

Julie says if the move goes ahead she would not expect it to be until late 2025/early 2026, adding: “The surgery build will take 66 weeks.”

The Grange says all patients will remain on the books unless they choose to find a new doctor.

There are five surgeries in Ramsgate which between them cover the same area as The Grange and will take on patients according to capacity

Julie said: “If the move does go ahead, it is around two years away so there is plenty of time to work collectively with the other Ramsgate practices, and of course East Cliff, around patient movement and this engagement process will help us get a better idea of numbers to inform plans/discussions with the practices and the ICB (integrated care board).”

There would be a new catchment area for new patients with planning documents adding: “The Grange Practice is planning to increase its list size by 50% over the next 5 to 6 years so this will also increase the PCN workforce budget further.”

The expanded patient list would enable the recruitment for additional staff and will allow the surgery to increase GP training.

Outline plan which also shows housing development at Westwood

There have been concerns raised about public transport links to the site and traffic congestion.

Plans include the aim of another bus stop in the New Haine Road, closer to the surgery than the current stops at Sainsburys.

Julie added: “With the concerns around traffic congestion we can consider surgery and clinic times when there is less traffic, so earlier and later.”

She said there could also be visiting care for those patients who may not be mobile and a grouping of appointments together to be dealt with holistically by one person rather than having “three different people, three times for one patient.”

Julie added: “What we want to do is deliver a surgery that has a service fit for the future and provides and improves patient care.”

One other concern is whether waiting times for appointments will increase but The Grange says: “It is anticipated that by moving to a new site, the challenges facing us will be eased and the ability to provide care to a greater number of people will be improved.”

The results of The Grange consultation will be included in a business case for NHS Kent ICS (integrated care system) to consider before a decision is made.

An FAQ and the questionnaire can be accessed at: https://www.thegrangepracticeramsgate.nhs.uk/2024/01/11/the-grange-practice-update-on-proposed-new-surgery/

Westwood Health Campus Image Clague Architects LLP

For the site as a whole, an outline planning application has been submitted to Thanet council.

Planning documents for the Westwood Health Campus development say: “The vision for the health campus is to combine a range of much-needed health and care uses to complement the wider, emerging with community at New Haine Road and the surrounding area.

“This exemplar scheme presents a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity for the district.”

A decision on the planning application has not yet been made.

Cllr Karen Constantine

County Councillor Karen Constantine said: “The idea of a ‘super surgery’ at Westwood was first floated at TDC around 2016. As a TDC councillor for Newington I raised my concerns then; how would people travel to Westwood, what would be the impact on existing GP practices, where would the funding come from… today eight years later I am asking those questions again.

“Many residents who use The Grange Practice are very concerned that seeing a GP will become more difficult. I do however, welcome the idea of a surgery at Westwood to serve the growth of population in that area.

“I hope that all those patients who wish to switch to another practice are able to do so – many cannot travel to Westwood, particularly the elderly, the very young and those with mobility issues.

“The number of GPs per head of population in Thanet remains low as does the increasing employment of paramedics and advanced nurse practitioners in place of doctors. Of course both paramedics and ANP’s do provide great care – but should never be a substitute for access to a GP.”

The Grange surgery response to queries of patients moving practices and access to the Westwood site are contained in the article above.

Westwood Health Campus plan submitted for GP surgery, care home, assisted living, retirement flats and children’s nursery

26 Comments

  1. “The planned new surgery would have more space for […] and bathroom facilities”
    Why are they planning to have a “bathroom”?
    Need to know about the proposed additional bus stop. What route will serve it? One with a frequency of 10 minutes, or 1½ hours?

  2. Surely many, if not most, current patients who live near the Grange practice in Ramsgate would prefer to transfer to another Ramsgate practice, rather than travel (not necessarily by car) to somewhere in Westwood Cross?

  3. For once I agree with Karen Constantine.

    This new proposal is ideal for those who live and will be living in the hundreds of new homes at Westwood and towards Manston. But The Grange is still required for Ramsgate residents. However as Thanet is already desperately short of GPs, how do they intend to get new ones for this new facility? As always, developers are only in it for the profit they are making, they don’t care about the practicalities and won’t be around when we find there aren’t GPs to offer all the proposed new services.

  4. “Scores” of people visited the event.
    Given that the Grange has over 10,000 patients on its books, that represents a “hit” rate of about 0.2%.
    Perhaps so few people visited because the venue was rather difficult to get to by public transport.
    Speaking of which, the nearest bus stop, near Sainsburys, has a dreadful service with few buses. Any “new” bus stop would have a comprehensive and frequent service, similar to that which QEQM enjoys

    • Or perhaps those on the patient list for the surgery aren’t that concerned about the move? It’s probably fair to suggest that they and those living in the homes at WX are the ones that really matter, not everyone else.

      • I think it’s very likely that most of the current patients enrolled at the Grange are pretty worried by these new plans.

  5. Shiny new GP surgeries that are ‘fit for the future’, what does that mean without a considerable influx of GPs? All the bells and whistles cannot compensate for the glaring lack of personnel.

  6. “Plans include the aim of another bus stop”. The word “aim” is the important word in the sentence. As the developers or the GP practice have no input or control of the provision of a new or relocated bus stop (street furniture), than I have. All they could do is request the provision, it would be up to local government and the bus operating company to make the call, if the funding was available to construct (maybe the GP practice could fund it?), the space as per a bus stop footprint on the public realm and underground services and the effect on the bus companies timetable. I understand when putting together the submission, it’s a nice thing to say within a presentation, but patients shouldn’t relie on it’s provision, it’s just a tick box on the environmental piece of the presentation at this stage.

  7. Karen Constantine questions are spot on and need a reply
    Developers and architects will happily build and maybe take ground rent , landscaping fees annually/ no interest or care in infrastructure
    Transport links unclear
    Will westwood cross soon have paid for parking ?
    Will be a no go area soon
    Ideal for new residents who can travel by foot or motability scooter !
    New resident will have needs a many and know their rights – ? Not so reticent as locals
    The staffing and recruitment of GP’s in Thanet is a big problem
    Professions allied to medicine ok , but go too far it’s dangerous medically qualified Drs are essential

  8. Local residents have accepted and /or been subject to second rate health ,education and employment provision for years .
    A lot of us had to leave / or wanted to leave for employment
    Many current residents politely wait whist dying – new residents who maybe have had better health , education facilities will not be so reticent . That is why .

          • Socially moved?
            Social engineering?
            Moved for cheaper housing , likes the beach -all the gear no idea ?
            Affluent enough to not be affected ?
            Sold council house ?
            Likes it ?
            Arrives then aghast at local educational ,health provisions ?
            Stupid?
            It is good to question – try questioning educational provision plans for here , the appalling politics and negligence within the local primary and secondary care agencies serving this area
            Or just describe absolute toot with every descriptive metaphor , adjective and bilge – call it art – get a grant and pretend it’s Hackney Wick !

      • As stated Karen Constantine is requiring answers to her very pertinent questions . The Grange is my surgery – I have a vested interest .If you think local education , healthcare and employment matters are fine and dandy – I pity you
        You have asked me questions , which I have answered .
        Your good self appears to like to question and challenge
        Of course you are entitled to your opine and I respect that – however stating that myself and others are writing insulting rubbish is at best ignorant.
        Goodbye

  9. Basically this is going to be a surgery dedicated to the 1000’s of new homes being built around Westwood Cross, all the local Ramsgate Grange patience will just be transferred over to the existing East Cliff practice who the Grange share with at Montefiore Medical Centre at present.
    It serves no purpose to any existing Ramsgate patient on their books.
    As usual, lets dress it up to something it’s not and everyone will be in acceptance.

    • There’s absolutely no mention of Grange patients being moved over to the (already oversubscribed) Eastcliff Practice.

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