NHS leaders call for new medical school

31 October 2017

NHS leaders in east Kent are calling for a medical school for the county to address the shortage of GPs and hospital doctors.

Hazel Carpenter and Simon Perks, the accountable officers for the east Kent clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and East Kent Hospitals Trust Deputy Chief Executive Liz Shutler and Medical Director Dr Paul Stevens are making the case for east Kent.

Hazel said: “We have a serious shortage of GPs as well as hospital doctors. On top of this at least 20% of GPs in east Kent are nearing retirement. We also have too many locum doctors covering vacancies in our hospitals. A medical school would mean we could attract and train people, many of whom will want to be part of the permanent medical workforce in east Kent. It will also help to raise the ambition and educational attainment of children and young people in east Kent. The universities, NHS and whole community are united on this – we must have a medical school.”

Liz Shutler said: “Paul, Simon, Hazel and I and our families are all long-term east Kent residents as well as working here and there is no doubt it is a great place to live. However, we need more ways to attract staff. The medical school would mean we could grow our own highly skilled doctors.”

In the UK there is a national shortage of consultants in some key specialties, such as A&E, elderly care and stroke. This is made worse in east Kent because staff and services are spread too thinly across too many sites.

Dr Paul Stevens added: “We have shown how having the right support and training attracts staff. East Kent Hospitals’ renal service provides nationally renowned first-class care for kidney patients for the whole of east Kent, Maidstone and Medway driven by a strong emphasis on teaching and research.

“Because we have the staff and equipment located together on one site for highly specialised services, and we are not stretching the service or the staff too thinly, patients get better, faster care, recover more quickly and spend less time in hospital. Allied to that we provide as much kidney care as possible locally through a number of satellite units across east and west Kent.”

The Trust has a long-term strategy to locate more of its specialist services together so that patients are seen faster by teams of experts working together. The strategy includes investing in larger emergency departments and having a centre of excellence for planned care like hip and knee operations, to avoid so many of these operations being cancelled because beds are taken up by emergency patients.

The NHS in East Kent is planning to take proposals to reconfigure services out to public consultation in spring 2018.

Data collected by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust shows a 5% rise in the number of patients being seen, treated, admitted to a hospital bed or discharged within four hours over the last two weeks across the Emergency Departments and Minor Injuries Units.

In the first two weeks of October, East Kent Hospitals’ performance on the four-hour standard averaged at 73.3%. In the last two weeks, the hospitals have seen an improvement in standards, reporting 76.1% followed by 78.3% last week.