The NHS, social care and public health in Kent and Medway published their draft plan for transforming services to meet the changing needs of local people on 23 November 2016.
Jointly developed by the NHS, Kent County Council and Medway Council, the Health and Social Care Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) sets out a vision for better health, wellbeing and standards of care for people in Kent and Medway, and achieving more with the staff and funding available.You can read more about the STP here.
Matthew Kershaw, East Kent Hospitals Chief Executive, said: “The NHS has done amazing things over the past decade, we are saving lives and people are living much longer. To keep doing this we need to change the way NHS and social care is provided because demand on these services is at unprecedented levels.
“The vision in the STP is about preventing people from becoming unwell in the first place; enhancing people’s mental health; providing as much care locally as possible and using hospital care appropriately. We want people get the right care in the right place. This includes only coming into hospital when that is the best place for you to be and not having to stay longer than you need to.”
Matthew said: “We are looking at a model of care which makes the best use of all of our hospitals.
"Our early thinking for our three main hospitals, Margate, Canterbury and Ashford, is to have two emergency hospital centres which include 24/7 A&E and planned care, with one of these providing specialist services.
“The third site would be a hospital dedicated to planned care, for example hip and knee replacements, and rehabilitation, alongside a GP-led urgent care centre.
“These will be supported by strong local care in community settings or at home. Providing services across our sites in different ways means we can provide better care and outcomes for patients because we can give them the specialist care they need from a single expert team, instead of stretching every specialist service across multiple sites.
“So, while you might not be treated at your closest hospital, you will get care at the East Kent Hospital that can provide the best treatment for you.
“In this model, there will still be two accident and emergency departments and an urgent care centre, as well as our minor injury units.
“We need local people to help us to get this right which is why there will be no changes to the way we deliver services in the future without a public consultation, which we expect will start in the summer.”
The Trust cares for more than 94,000 inpatients a year – clinical evidence suggests that many patients should be being cared for in more appropriate settings in the local community or at home.
Dr Sarah Phillips*, Chair of the East Kent Delivery Board, said: “We are working to bring a profound shift in where and how we deliver care. It builds on conversations clinicians have had over many years about where improvements could be made, and with local people about the care they want and need.
“Doctors, nurses, midwives, social care staff and everyone involved in looking after the people of east Kent want to be able to offer high quality, safe and accessible services for their patients and I believe these plans show a way in which we can design services that better meet the needs of people now and into the future”.
The NHS wants to continue discussing this work with patients and members of the public, so it can develop firm plans to take to public consultation – likely to be in June 2017 at the earliest.
A survey to ask for feedback about your local health service is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KandMstp.
To find out about opportunities to get involved in the coming months, anyone can become a member of East Kent Hospitals Trust, or you can join your GP patient participation group or clinical commissioning group Health Network.
Notes for editors
East Kent’s A&E departments (in Ashford and Margate) and Urgent Care Centre (in Canterbury) see more than 200,000 patients a year.
*Dr Sarah Phillips is GP in east Kent. She is also Co-chair of the Kent and Medway Clinical Board. The East Kent Delivery Board is made up of health and social care leaders and is developing the vision in the STP in East Kent.