A fairer share of healthcare

No-one knows when they or a loved one will need our National Health Service. We just know we will do at some point – and that it will deeply affect everyone involved. That’s why first-class healthcare is a top priority for me.

Since 2010, I’ve battled hard to get a fairer share for our community. There have been real improvements in recent years, yet there is much more yet to do.

Recruitment has long been a problem. A key reason is we’ve never been able to train nurses and doctors locally. That’s why I campaigned long and hard for East Kent’s first ever medical school – a £30 million facility that is due to open next September in Canterbury. It will eventually turn out 300 qualified medical professionals a year, meaning we should be able to have the medical professionals we need.

Top flight medical facilities are vital too. In east Kent our major hospitals are due for upgrades worth £350 million. That’s the sort of investment that will transform the quality of frontline care. That’s why this week the East Kent MPs have come together to press ministers for the investment.

Yet things now are a far cry from how they used to be. Back in 2010, Deal Hospital was left teetering on the edge. Only after a determined community campaign did we ensure it was safeguarded. Now, not only is it still open but it’s busier than it has been for a long time, with staff numbers up by a fifth.

Dover had seen Buckland Hospital run down over many years. Services were cut, and wards axed one by one. Yet we fought for and secured a brand new state-of-the art £24 million hospital. Twice as many clinics now operate at Buckland than used to be the case. I am pushing for local health chiefs to do even more there, to spare Dovorians long journeys to far away hospitals. Care should be delivered as close to home as possible.

That’s why the plans next door to Buckland are so encouraging. Work is underway on a £3.5 million dementia village – the first of its kind in the UK. Six derelict semi-detached blocks in Randolph Road are being renovated to house 30 beds for elderly residents. They will allow people to live as independently as possible, with an on-site shop, cinema, pub and hairdressers.

Everyone knows how we have fought so hard for better healthcare locally. It’s welcome this commitment is shared by Boris Johnson. The announcement this week of new funding is great news. Yet it must be spent on frontline services, on training our own doctors and nurses.

And it must be spent on the patients of Dover and Deal too. I am determined to keep fighting so we finally get a fairer share of healthcare here in Dover and Deal.

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Charlie outside Buckland Hospital with Susan Acott and Stephen Smith - June 2018.JPG 1.48 MB