There is nothing more important than knowing you and your loved ones will receive the best possible care. That is why I'm determined to fight for a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal.
Real progress is being made. Last month it was confirmed that our campaign for a new £30 million East Kent medical school had been successful. The Government is funding 107 undergraduates annually across the sites from September 2020. Everyone knows we need to recruit more GPs. Now doctors and nurses will be training and living in our beautiful corner of Kent, meaning many more will stay and work locally.
Another issue of real concern for so many families is the care their parents and grandparents receive in older age. So it's fantastic that a new "dementia village" – the first of its type in the UK – is being built right next to our hospital in Dover. The team behind the project showed me how the empty houses in Randolph Road will finally be brought back into use. They will create a place patients can call home, keep active and carry on living as independently as possible. The team are also committed to using local architects, local construction firms and to employing local workers when the dementia village opens early next year.
This month a new £2.3 million GP hub, which will run out of both Buckland and Deal hospitals, is set to open. GPs will work out of ten rooms across both sites. They will be open 8am to 8pm seven days a week, delivering 110,000 appointments per year – meaning more people can be treated locally.
We must not forget far we have come since 2010. In Deal, we saved our much-loved hospital from the brink. Now staff numbers are up 17% on 2016. In Dover, Buckland Hospital was decimated over the previous decade. We got a £24 million facility built in its place. Twice as many clinics are now operating than when it first opened.
Yet there is still more to do. I recently held talks with bosses at the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group. I raised my serious concerns about the removal of the age-related macular degeneration treatment from Buckland. They said they are working to bring it back. They are in discussions with eye doctors and looking at training up more nurses. Dovorians were also promised a number of other services when Buckland Hospital opened two years ago which we need to see delivered now.
When I spoke to staff at Deal Hospital, they told me there is a great opportunity for more respiratory and rehab services. Although the East Kent coalfields closed some time ago, there are still people locally who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The CCG should make treatment for this available in Deal.
We've battled hard for a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal. Investment is now growing. Yet we must keep fighting.
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