Campaigner confident about Queen Victoria Memorial’s future
WITH the move of Herne Bay’s outpatient services to a “hub” at Estuary View in Whitstable, a leading health campaigner has urged a positive approach from all concerned. Asked if the end of outpatient services in the town might ultimately lead to the demise of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Gillian Fowler, chairman of its League of Friends, said:
“No, not all. We move on. We were against this and, to be fair, we fought the strongest battle we could. Eight hundred people came out to a meeting at King’s Hall on a cold, dark evening in January last year, so the support was clearly there. But this is where we are and a lot of things are still here at Herne Bay for the elderly — things like geriatric care and rheumatology services.”
And the long-term future of the site?
“Many people are concerned about the large field that adjoins the site, thinking it might be used for housing, hut surveys have been done and it’s been shown that in 1936 it was given to the people of Herne Bay by the Dence family for health purposes. We’ve been told that there are absolutely no plans for this land to go to developers.”
While Mrs Fowler doesn’t pretend that the move of outpatient services to Estuary View was desirable for the people of Herne Bay, she is keen to stress the positive aspects of the changes. One of the most striking is a wound clinic scheduled to open in February or March.
“The league is absolutely behind the clinic fmancially and we’ve pledged £16,000 towards it. The Kent Community Health Trust hasn’t got all the money to set it up, so we’re happy to help. The new facility won’t impinge on doctors’ surgeries and It will offer more than what is available now in wound treatment, for things like ulcerated legs that often just won’t clear up. There will also be the opportunity to train practice nurses, for example.”
A sum like £16,000 seems a lot of money for a voluntary organisation such as a league of friends, so where did it come from?
“A lot of it is from legacies. We have an annual fete, while our shop brings in about £10,000 a year.”
All good news for Herne Bay, of course, although Mrs Fowler is aware of the problems of the focus on Estuary View.
“Many people will have to get a bus to Whitstable and then get a shuttle bus when you’re there, as long as you know when it’s running. As for the Estuary View centre, I’m told it’s out on a limb and cold in winter. So, no, it’s not ideal.”
But, to finish on that all-important note, Mrs Fowler highlighted the presence at the Queen Victoria of X-ray and phlebotomy services and the 23 beds in Heron Ward, itself a “step-down” from acute services.
“In the end, we could be getting geriatric or chest clinics commissioned for Herne Bay, but for now we’ll celebrate what we’ve got. We’re looking to the future.”
Herne Bay Times, 28th Jan 2015