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Fears as clinics move in service shake-up

Campaigners claim long journeys await Bay patients

LOSS OF SERVICES: The Queen Victoria Hospital Herne Bay
LOSS OF SERVICES: The Queen Victoria Hospital Herne Bay

OUTPATIENT clinics are to be taken away from Herne Bay and Faversham hospitals as part of a shake-up of health services. Hospital bosses insist the changes will lead to “improved services” because they will introduce a one-stop shop approach where patients can have tests on the same day they see a doctor. But campaigners argued it would mean people from Herne Ray and Faversham would be left having to travel to Whitstable, where most of the services will now be based. The decision to go ahead was made at a meeting of the board of last Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust on Friday.

Chief executive Stuart Bain said:

“We have listened to what people have said and responded by investing £455,000 into better public transport links and offering a wider range of more convenient appointments. This is an exciting time for the Trust and the improvements we have agreed will allow us to further develop our high quality services for outpatients.

As we promised, we did re-visit the evaluation of options for a site on the North Kent Coast and we invited representatives of the Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent County Council’s Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee to take part in this very robust exercise. The results re-affirmed that Estuary View Medical Centre was the best choice for the sixth outpatient site.”

Clinics will now be based at six sites, including Whitstable, and appointments will be offered in the early mornings, evenings and on Saturday mornings. The project also includes a new hospital at Dover, which will use up most of the £28 million budget, with the rest – £5 million – spent on improvements to outpatient facilities. Community-run clinics at hospitals are not affected by the changes.


‘It’s sad for all who worked so hard’

THE FUTURE: Estuary View Medical Centre at Whitstable
THE FUTURE: Estuary View Medical Centre at Whitstable

Herne Bay could not have fought any harder to save the services at the Queen Victoria, according to the chairman of the hospital’s League of Friends. Gillian Fowler said the community response to the plan to move outpatient clinics from the hospital in King Edward Avenue had “pulled out all the stops”, with hundreds packing two public meetings in the town. And she said while the decision on the clinics was disappointing, the hospital still had a strong future. Mrs Fowler said:

“We still have our theatre and our wonderful podiatry department, as well as physiotherapy and other community clinics along with dermatology. But what we have not got are the clinics that are most used by the elderly people who make up a large proportion of Herne Bay’s population.

I feel very sorry for the people who have got to go all that way to Whitstable now, particularly if they do not drive, which a lot of people do not. But I don’t think in any way they want to close the hospital, it is just not being used for what it could be used for. It is sad and disappointing for all the people who worked so hard.”

The League is asking for more information on the data used to make the decision, although Mrs Fowler said there was not much hope of a challenge. She added:

“I want it broken down to see how it was done. It was always going to go this way but I don’t know how they have scored it. I do think the consultation was just to stop a judicial review. They had their site chosen before it started.”


What the changes will mean

Queen Victoria hospital in Herne Bay

What will stay? Podiatry, physiotherapy arid other community clinics along with dermatology.
What will go? Ear nose and throat, general surgery, geriatric medicine, gynaecology, obstetrics, ophthalmology, orthopaedic, paediatric, rheumatology, thoracic medicine.

Whitstable and Tankerton hospital

What will stay? Community clinics not provided by the hospital trust.
What will go? Endocrinology, ear nose and throat, general surgery, geriatric medicine, obstetrics, ophthalmology, rheumatology.

Faversham Hospital

What will stay? Community clinics not provided by the hospital trust.
What will go? Geriatric medicine, gynaecology, obstetrics, rheumatology.

Estuary View

Existing clinics that will see increased use: Cardiology, ophthalmology.
New clinics: Breast surgery, colorectal surgery, dermatology, endocrinology, ear nose and throat, gastroenterology, general surgery, geriatric medicine, gynaecology, nephrology, obstetrics, orthopaedics, paediatrics, rheumatology, thoracic medicine, trauma, urology, vascular surgery, pre-assessment, speech and language therapy.


Facebook views

Carol Martin: “Such a shame, these clinics are so convenient for so many people. I hope there will be a bus service going to and fro, not exactly on bus route is it?”

Richard Farbrace: “Is there going to be a free early bus service from the Bay over to the clinics as a lot of retired people go early for blood tests etc? One cannot use bus pass until 9.30 by that time it will be crowded out. Estuary View is not on a bus route like the Queen Victoria.”

Shelagh Turner: “No surprise there then. I have said all along that they were only paying lip service to us, the people that matter. I’m still pleased I made my objections clear in the local press, Meridian News and Radio Kent, at least we all tried our best. Nobody should hold their breath about a new bus service, that will not happen of that I’m certain.”

Andy Newell: “Why doesn’t that surprise us all? It was already a done deal and a case of hold the public consultation after the decision was made. Well done to the Trust for shutting our outpatients down in Herne Bay. So what happens when all these so called new houses are built? Queues down the Thanet Way and into Whitstable and a seven hour wait to see somebody? And that’s if your lucky! It’s a bad decision and It will come back and bite you all that make this pathetic and undemocratic decision.”

Herne Bay Times, July 2nd 2014

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