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A new hospital for East Kent, in Canterbury...

Mission Statement

AIM: "OptionTwo4U’s aim is to promote the advantages for all the people of East Kent of a new acute, specialist hospital in Canterbury."

The Group will provide an effective channel of communication that will give the people of East Kent access to the facts of healthcare in our area and to the reasoning that underpins the selection of the two options for the location of the main specialist hospital.

SUMMARY OF PRESENT POSITION

We are given to understand that in 2020, a public consultation will be held on the establishment of a single main acute specialist hospital in East Kent.

As things stand, we are told that there are two Options for this hospital:

OPTION 1 – William Harvey Hospital (WHH) - Development of this hospital with all the specialist facilities based on this site, to cover the whole of East Kent and beyond whilst retaining non-specialist hospital services at Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (QEQM) and the Kent and Canterbury (K&C).

OPTION 2 - New hospital to be built next to the existing K&C Hospital, having direct access off the A2, with all specialist services based on one site, covering the whole of East Kent and beyond. Retention of non-specialist hospital services at the WHH and the QEQM.

OptionTwo4U is a group of individuals who have long fought for services to be retained at the K&C. We now wish to ensure that the advantages for all residents of East Kent of locating this main hospital in Canterbury should be communicated to all people in East Kent in advance of the public consultation.

We agree that there will be strong support to the other two hospitals. We emphasise that we do not advocate the reduction of these to simple cottage hospitals. We believe there is a vital role for them in providing effective treatment for at least 87% of people who do not require specialist hospital services.

We understand that the less complex diagnostics and treatment required in each speciality would still be available at the QEQM and WHH hospitals.

We are convinced from speaking with clinicians providing the more complex services, that there is a strong case for having all acute specialist services under one roof. A Centre of Excellence that the new hospital would provide would attract top class clinicians to work here in East Kent. The close proximity to London, accessed in under an hour by high speed train, is also an important factor.

We do have to appreciate that it is impossible to provide very expensive diagnostic equipment on more than one site. Also, there are insufficient specialist clinicians available nationally.

We are also convinced that in an extensive area like East Kent it makes sense to locate that specialist hospital in the very centre. Canterbury is no more than 18 miles from either the QEQM or WHH. QEQM and WHH are 35 miles apart.

The case for locating the main hospital in Canterbury is strengthened by the recent decision to locate Kent and Medway Medical School on the Canterbury campuses of both universities in Canterbury.

The reason why location of the main acute hospital in Ashford was originally the only option on the table, was that the buildings of the Kent and Canterbury are antiquated, and no longer fit for purpose. The cost of rebuilding was seen as impossibly high. This situation was dramatically altered, however, when a local developer offered to build, at his own expense, the shell of a new hospital building, next to the existing Kent and Canterbury. This was on the condition that he would receive planning permission for 2,000 houses on the greenfield site beyond the hospital.

Inevitably, questions were raised about this offer. Is the deal to include the acquisition of the existing hospital site to the developer? Is it likely that the City Council would grant planning permission?

Over a period of more than a year the proposal by this developer has been subject to intense scrutiny by regulatory financial institutions and the NHS. The following has been established:

  1. The only quid pro quo asked for by the developer is permission to build the houses. The existing K and C site would remain in the ownership of the NHS.
  2. The City Council has already been told that it must allocate more land for building houses, than it originally planned. 2,000 houses would go a long way towards meeting that Government requirement.

We understand that the case for a new East Kent acute specialist hospital is being considered by the national decision-making body, namely NHS England, and we assume that the two Options, as previously publicised, are part of the plan.

Our objective is to make sure the public are forewarned and fully informed about the details of the two proposals, in order that everyone is in a position to make an informed choice during the public consultation.

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