An £800,000 project making the departments at Ashford and Margate hospitals more fit for purpose is underway and due to be completed next month.
At Margate, the space for ambulatory care is being expanded so staff can see more people, with a combined surgical assessment unit. A separate area for children will be created and a mental health liaison service will be in place 24 hours a day by the end of September.
It is part of East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust’s (EKHUFT) 12-month plan to improve emergency care, including immediate action to ensure NHS services can meet the needs of a challenging winter period.
Simon Perks, Accountable Officer for NHS Ashford and NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCGs said: “Ensuring patients can access the care they need in the community, seeing patients more quickly in hospital emergency departments and improving the experience for patients is the priority for the NHS in east Kent.
“We are focusing on ensuring that the entire local NHS is caring for patients in the right place at the right time, whether that’s in a hospital bed, in a community setting or at home.”
Immediate action will include:
- Identifying patients who are frail or at risk of developing pneumonia earlier, so they are less likely to need hospital care.
- Expanding the service that allows many patients to receive hospital treatment without the need for an overnight stay.
- 24/7 mental health teams working in the emergency departments to ensure patients have fast access to appropriate services.
- Ensuring people don’t stay in hospital longer than they need, by further investing in therapies staff, who ensure patients have the support they need to be able to leave hospital safely, for example, with specialist equipment at home.
- Expanding services in the community so that rapid response teams are seeing patients within two hours of a referral from the emergency department.
The NHS is also increasing information to the public about the services minor injuries units and pharmacists provide, and information on how to stay well. A vaccination programme starting in October will also protect staff and patients from catching flu.
East Kent Hospitals Acting Chief Executive Liz Shutler said: “Patients attending the emergency departments are assessed soon after arriving and critically ill patients are prioritised and treated quickly. However, this means that people attending with non-life threatening illnesses and injuries can wait for a long time and this is not the standard we want for any of our patients.
“We are carefully monitoring our services to ensure that patients are receiving safe standards of care. A wide range of doctors, nurses, therapists and other clinical staff make up the teams in our emergency departments and are working extremely hard to care for patients but it is challenging as we are still covering vacant posts with temporary staff.
“We have been successful in a bid for £800k to help make the departments at Ashford and Margate hospitals fit for purpose. This refurbishment work to increase the space available and provide a better environment for sick or injured patients, has begun and will be completed in October.
“We are continuing to work hard recruit staff and have recently recruited 10 permanent emergency doctors that are joining East Kent Hospitals in the next two months.
“Every member of staff is working extremely hard to care for patients, and improving standards for emergency patients is our top priority.”
16 hour wait in A&E
The improvements were revealed by The Isle of Thanet News earlier this month following the experience of Birchington mum Hayley Press, 34, who endured a 16 hour wait in A&E.
Hospital bosses said the pressures were due to a lack of permanent staff and dealing with 13 extra urgent patients every day being brought from Canterbury following the scaling back services at the K&C Hospital. This took place after it was revealed that trainee doctors were to be moved to Margate’s QEQM Hospital and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford due to a shortage of consultants to oversee them at Kent and Canterbury.