We've battled hard to deliver a fairer share of healthcare for Dover and Deal – and we are seeing real improvements on the ground.
Deal Hospital continues to go from strength to strength. I visited just last week. I was struck by how hard the staff here work and how much they care about their patients – who were full of praise for the doctors and nurses.
The nurses told me they had a noticed a real improvement this year in managing the extra pressures our NHS faces at winter. The Government boosted winter funding for East Kent Hospitals by £6.5 million this year and it's great to see it's making a difference.
There's so much good work to celebrate at Deal. Over the past two years, the amount of time people are staying in the hospital has reduced by a third. That means people are getting off the wards and back home much sooner. The trust that runs the hospital has launched a £1.5 million nursing academy, with the first group of 50 students beginning training now. The womb clinic at Deal is set for an overhaul in March. Plus the hospital also has a brand new £250,000 machine halving X-ray times – so more patients can be seen and faster.
It's incredible to think that back in 2010 Deal Hospital had been left teetering on the brink. The progress we have made since underlines why we were right to campaign to safeguard the hospital.
Deal Hospital is not our only success. After a strong community campaign, we also delivered the £24 million Buckland Hospital, with state-of-the-art facilities. Twice as many clinics are now operating at the hospital than in 2015 – and it has GP services too.
Just next door, work is underway on a £3.5m "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 be helped to live as independently as possible – with an on-site shop, cinema, pub and hairdressers.
Meanwhile, East Kent A&E departments will soon be upgraded through investment of £200 million. Mental health is also being boosted with spending rising to more than £11 billion. The Government is also set to boost the number of mental health professionals by 21,000.
Much has been achieved. We've come a long way together since 2010. Yet more is needed. Particularly in recruiting more GPs. That's why in Parliament we fought a long and hard battle for a new £30 million East Kent medical school, so more doctors and nurses can be trained locally. Other Kent MPs joined the fight. And last year it was finally confirmed that our bid had been successful. This victory will make a massive difference in the longer term.
In Dover and Deal we are lucky to have such dedicated doctors, nurses and hospital staff who go above and beyond every single day, putting patients first. I am determined to keep fighting for our NHS – and to deliver a fairer share of healthcare for our area.