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Frequently Asked Questions

Have you factored into your planning deprivation and demographics?

A wide range of criteria have been used in developing the proposals including capacity at different sites, facilities, access for patients, areas of deprivation and demographics.

Why have you chosen to have six sites?

The Trust wanted the majority of its patients to be able to access services within 20 minutes’ drive of their home. This plan will also enable us to offer a full range of outpatient services supported by all the necessary equipment and staff. This would not be possible on a larger number of sites.

Will you be providing children’s outpatient clinics outside school time, and during evenings and weekends?

Yes, there will be clinics offered outside school time, during evenings and at weekends.

Will parking be a problem if you are reducing the number of sites from 15 to six?

The Trust has looked into this very carefully and believe that adequate parking spaces will be available at each of the selected sites. By extending the clinics’ working day by several hours the Trust will be making better use of all the facilities, including parking.

How does a “one-stop clinic” work?

Patients attend an outpatient appointment where they will be seen by a clinician, have diagnostic tests (X-rays and blood tests for example), discuss a treatment plan and arrange any further appointment where necessary. Patients who may require surgery will also be offered pre-operative checks and should be able to arrange a date for their operation.

With the planned reduction in sites, will the six sites become over-crowded?

The Trust is proposing to extend the working day and offer Saturday morning clinics thereby increasing the number of appointments, and availability over a longer period. This means that there will not be a concentration of patients attending clinics between 9am and 5pm. The Trust is planning to make improvements to the outpatient departments in the hospitals at Ashford, Canterbury and Margate. Also the new hospital at Dover will have an outpatient department that will be double the current size, and the preferred site for the north Kent coast will have enough room for all patients from that area. As a result of these improvements patients should find the facilities more comfortable than they do now.

Why is Deal Hospital not one of the six sites being consulted on?

A few years ago, Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust consulted the public on the “Dover Project – your say” and the effect it would have on services provided in Dover, Deal and the surrounding areas. As a result of that consultation and its outcome, the Trust is investing £23 million to re-build the Dover Hospital to provide up-to-date, modern services for the south Kent coast population. Dover’s new hospital will open in early 2015.

NHS South Kent Coast CCG are separately working with their GP members and local people on potential services to be provided from Deal hospital. Deal hospital will provide an on-going hub for community services and may include outpatient style services where these are needed locally.

Why can’t you keep all my outpatient services open at my local hospital on the north Kent coast (Faversham/ Whitstable/ Herne Bay)?

The number of patients using the Trust’s services at each of these sites is small due to the facilities available. The proposed new outpatient clinic on the north Kent coast will be able to cater for all these patients to the highest modern standards. It is not financially possible to run services from multiple sites and bring all of these sites up to the required standard.

Does this mean my local community hospital will close?

No, changing where outpatient clinics are provided does not mean community hospitals will close. As with all potential change it provides local people and the NHS with an opportunity to consider how community hospitals might usefully contribute to the future of health and social care. NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG is undertaking a review of community based services to ensure they offer the best value for local people and make the most effective use of resources. Local people and partners such as local councils, social care and providers of community based services will be integral to creating a shared, sustainable plan for the future of health and social care. At a time when many public services are planning a future with less funding, how services make best use of what already exists will be crucial.

Why is the NHS in East Kent not looking at all these issues together?

The four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) do work together, however the proposals for the outpatient services affect the different CCGs and their patients to different degrees. Three of the clinical commissioning groups: NHS Ashford, NHS South Kent Coast and NHS Thanet have considered the proposals and believe that although they will be beneficial to their population by increasing the number of outpatient services provided locally and the quality of facilities available, for many patients services remain largely the same. On this basis it was felt by their Governing Bodies that there was no benefit to being more involved in the consultation. NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG recognise there will be an impact on more of their patients and therefore they are taking an active role in the consultation itself; to ensure they know what the views of local patients, carers and member practices are before they make their final decision on the proposals.

I don’t have a car and I can’t drive, are there good public transport links to each of the six sites?

The Trust has looked into this thoroughly and each of the sites has good public transport links. It is also working with Stagecoach to improve some bus routes and the frequency of bus services.

If I attend a one-stop clinic which is going to take several hours will I be able to leave the clinic to get a drink and something to eat?

Each of the six sites will have a snack bar, restaurant or shop available where people will be able to buy refreshments. The outpatient nurses will ensure you don’t lose your place in the clinic schedule.

Isn't this just all about saving money?

While there will be some financial benefits and financial prudence is required in all aspects of public services, the key driver behind these changes is to improve the services so that patients have a much better experience and greater access to outpatient services.

Will you text me to remind me of my appointment time like my dentist or hairdresser does?

Yes, the Trust has already started to do this and plans to roll this out to all patients who would like it over the next year.

When I arrive for my outpatient appointment, how will I check in?

Each of the sites will have a central outpatient reception where you can speak to a member of staff and there will also be a self check-in screen available similar to those used at your local GP surgery.

The consultation document discusses proposed changes to EKHUFT’s outpatient services.

No inference should be drawn about either the services or facilities offered by other healthcare providers.

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