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New hope hospital will keep outpatient services

Leaque of Friends chairman Gillian Fowler
League of Friends chairman Gillian Fowler

Campaigners are hopeful that outpatient services at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital can be saved as health bosses edge closer to a decision. Experts from the University of Kent have written a report following a three-month public consultation, which will be discussed by Kent County Council’s health overview committee in Maidstone tomorrow (Friday). The report by Dr Sarah Hotham, public health specialist Linda Jenkins and researcher Jenny Billings found that the consultation carried out by the East Kent NHS Trust met all the requirements needed for a decision to be made. The trust hopes to reduce the number of sites from 15 to six, with services to be combined at new “one-stop-shop” clinics at Estuary View Medical Centre in Whitstable. Hundreds packed into the Kings Hall for two public meetings in January and March, where concerns were raised about removing services from the Queen Vic. Queen Vic League of Friends chairman Gillian Fowler said:

“I get regular phone calls from people, one last week from an old lady visiting Estuary View, who said she couldn’t get home and they had to ring her a taxi. It cost £25 or so just to get back. I do think we have shown that we can provide everything on their [East Kent NHS] wish list. In Herne Bay there is an increasing population and large elderly population. So it’s easier to be seen as close to home as possible.”

bThe campaign won support across the town and across the political spectrum. This week Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale praised the new head of the NHS in England, Simon Stephens, for saying that there was a greater need for smaller local hospitals rather than large centralised centres. Sir Roger said:

“I hope the trust and the Canterbury Commissioning Group will get the message that downgrading our local hospital in the interests of what is effectively a private medical practice cannot remain on the agenda. The trust needs to take heed from the new NHS boss and preserve and enhance our local state-owned hospitals.”

The trust had been due to give their decision at the end of May, but have recently had to rescore the centres. A decision is now expected later this month. Mrs Fowler added:

“I’m quietly positive. Perhaps I see what I want to see. But I’m not getting down in the dumps about it. I’ve been with the league for 40 years and seen many changes. We’ve had to fight for lots of things, and we’re still here and working together.”

 

Herne Bay Gazette, June 5th 2014

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