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Gale's View - 09/10/2019

October 9th 2019


That the Government has included the Kent and Canterbury in its list of forty hospitals to be rebuilt under the programme announced a couple of weeks ago should surprise nobody.

The K&C has a well-earned reputation for the quality of its healthcare but its buildings, linked by hundreds of yards of disjointed corridors, are past their sell-by date and no longer fit for purpose. The original Art Deco façade is believed to be suffering from ` concrete sickness` and much of the rest of the estate is dilapidated.  “Not before time” is the obvious comment.


The Health Department has made it clear that ten `shovel-ready` projects will commence construction in the immediate future and that the remaining thirty, including the K&C , will be the subject of a multi-million pound  investment in design and planning  before construction between 2025 and 2030. That should benefit all of those, including myself and my own family,  who use East Kent`s  hospitals and the creation of the new medical school based on Christ Church University and the University of Kent will help to alleviate if not solve completely historic medical staffing problems.


These plans do not constitute the construction of a new “Super Hospital” in Canterbury and they do not, I believe, pose a threat to the viability of and services provided by The William Harvey at Ashford and the QEQM in Margate. If I thought that would be the case I would not be applauding this announcement as indeed I do.


I have said frequently that the transport infrastructure and road systems of East Kent do not lend themselves to the creation of one large unit to replace all others and if any such hospital were to be planned in the future it would need to be located not in Canterbury but where the main arterial roads converge, probably at Whitfield.  That does not mean, though, that difficult decisions concerning the future location of specialist services will not have to be taken and that programme of consultation and consideration continues.


I believe that these are decisions that are best taken, primarily, by clinicians with the appropriate medical knowledge to determine how and where to save lives. It is not on a whim but on that basis that I have made it plain that I support the creation of a hyper-stroke unit at Ashford supported by the provision of a state-of-the-art stroke rehabilitation centre at the QEQM.  This is not, and must not be allowed to become,  about party-politics but about offering the best outcomes for the most patients over the widest possible area.


There is a need, also, to enhance East Kent`s  Women`s Cancer services currently  available at the QEQM . That will require the liberation of additional capacity which may, in turn, involve the re-location of some elective and non-emergency  surgery. Again, this will not be a swift or an easy process. Any such proposal will be the subject of consultation based upon medical need and expertise. It will no doubt attract the inevitable protests but I shall, as I have always done in the past, put clinical efficiency and successful treatment for my constituents above any populist or electoral advantage. The meeting of the healthcare needs of tomorrow  requires determined and courageous management and decisions that all elected representatives  have, I believe, a duty to support.

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