22 SEP 2017

We must make better use of Buckland

I have held crunch talks with local health chiefs – calling for urgent action to tackle A&E delays and better use of Buckland Hospital.

Last week I spoke with East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust interim chief executive Liz Shutler and chairman Nikki Cole after Matthew Kershaw's resignation. 

Ms Shutler detailed several measures to improve emergency departments – including hiring 10 new doctors, opening three new treatment areas and an ambulatory care unit in Ashford, and expanding the facility in Margate.

She also agreed to look at bringing more services to Buckland Hospital in Dover.

It was great to speak with the trust's new chief, but I told her I have serious concerns. Emergency care in our hospitals is not good enough. People are waiting far too long to be seen.

The Government is pumping an extra £10 billion of cash into the NHS in real terms. Our trust needs to be run better – and I've been encouraged by the discussions I've had this week.

But I want to see real improvements. I want to see our brand new hospital in Dover being fully utilised, with more services. Ms Shutler promised to have a serious look at this and I welcome that commitment."

I have also been told a healthcare provider recently placed into special measures could have its contract terminated. Nestor Primecare Services – which delivers NHS 111 and out-of-hours doctor services across east Kent – was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission last month. A damning report said it put patients at risk with low staffing, untrained staff and delays in treatment.

I demanded South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group take urgent measures to ensure patients in Dover and Deal were safeguarded. I have now been assured that a service improvement plan has been agreed, and that a 90-day notice to terminate the contract will be triggered if performance does not improve.

Inspectors say people in Dover and Deal have been put at risk by the new provider. That is unacceptable. We are getting more services at our local hospitals, but healthcare outside of them is just as important.

We must see Primecare deliver swift and significant improvements. If we do not, the CCG should stick to their word and sack them.

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Charlie Elphicke

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