BATTLE TO SAVE QUEEN VICTORIA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Campaigners have lost their battle to save outpatient services at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay. It follows the decision by East Kent NHS Trust bosses to push forward with plans to axe the number of outpatient sites from 15 to six. Following a £30,000 public consultation, services such as obstetrics, rheumatology and gynaecology will now be moved to a new ‘one-stop’ site at Estuary View Medical Centre in Whitstable. The Queen Vic League of Friends chairman Gillian Fowler helped organise a steadfast defence of the services offered at the hospital, which was backed by thousands, and supported by MP Sir Roger Gale. She said:
“I’m bitterly disappointed by the decision. I suppose deep down I’m not that surprised as they have done what they always wanted to do. We showed them we could do everything here, but I don’t know the ins and outs of their scoring process. It’s very sad for the people who are going to have to travel on public transport in the winter cold. As far as the hospital is concerned, we move forward and look towards other things. If there are ever problems with Estuary View, then we have a superb operating theatre and Heron ward is fantastic.”
Hundreds packed into the Kings Hall for two public meetings in January and March to vent their fury at proposals to remove outpatient clinics at the Queen Vic. But at a board meeting on Friday health bosses were adamant the decision will lead to improved care and lead to more convenient appointments for patients. Chief executive Stuart Bain said:
“As we promised, we did revisit 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 reaffirmed that Estuary View Medical Centre was the best choice for the sixth outpatient site. 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 turther develop our high quality services for outpatients. We now await the view of the Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group, who meet next month, and we then look forward to implementing these changes that will allow us to provide patients in east Kent with state of the art high quality services.”
MP FEARS ESTUARY VIEW WILL BE ‘OVERWHELMED’
Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale fears the Estuary View Medical Centre will be overwhelmed by the new demand. He has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to call in the East Kent NKS Trust’s (EKHUFT) decision to remove outpatient services from the Queen Vic. He said the decision flew in the face of a speech made by the new chief executive in England Simon Stevens, who called for more use of smaller local facilities earlier in June. Sir Roger said:
“The decision taken by EKHUFT clearly flies in the face of and completely ignores the very publicly expressed and strongly held views of local people. I fear that the proposed transfer of work and patients to Estuary View will, if not halted, lead to distress, added costs and inconvenience for many elderly people. It is also likely to overwhelm a facility that will find it difficult, if not impossible, to accommodate the sheer volume of work.”
Sir Roger, who attended both public meetings to challenge health bosses, said that if services at Estuary View fail then the position of chief executive Stuart Bain and other directors will be untenable. He added:
“I would stress, however, that the proposals will not mean the closure of the Queen Vic. The hospital has, and will continue to have, a vital role to play in the healthcare provision for Herne Bay.”
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Will they start running a bus directly there then from Herne Bay, for those of us who do not drive? Unfortunately they can obviously only afford to equip one centre so somebody with a map looked at Herne Bay, Whitstable and Faversham and decided where the midpoint was with a main road for access. Then bingo, that’s where it’ll go, this was decided way back when Estuary View was first built. It has always been about money, or lack of it. To put the same level of equipment in the Bay would be even worse for those in Faversham let alone Whitstable. So all three lose out.
One of the most stupid mistakes made. I suppose none of them live in Herne Bay so won’t need the hospital services. Idiots.
Another nail in the NHS. Shocking news for all who use this lovely hospital. It will not be long before we will start paying for the service, as I think it will be privatised in the next decade.
This is a lovely hospital which a lot of people use. What are the elderly and those that cannot get to Estuary View to do? Money before health again, so so sad.
Decision made by someone who has a degree in business management probably. Before long all community hospitals will be shut down and rapid response teams and nursing will be delivered in your own home…within next 10 yrs I reckon.
Herne Bay Gazette, July 3rd 2014