We've been fighting hard to secure a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal. And we're seeing some real improvements.
Buckland Hospital is now operating almost twice as many clinics as when it first opened. There are now 32 outpatient specialities, delivering 9,895 clinics each year. That's nearly double the amount in 2015.
What's more, seven new ophthalmic consultants have been recruited to work at the hospital, including in its brand new cataract surgery theatre. This makes a big difference to people who had to travel out of town for treatment.
And health chiefs have said good progress is being made on getting GP services co-located at Buckland and creating a primary care hub.
It's great that there are more services at Buckland. The old hospital had been decimated over a decade – yet the opposite is happening in the new one. Now we need even more services. Around 30 per cent of the new hospital remains unused. I also want to see beds commissioned at the brand new residential facility next door. Patients should be recovering as close to home as possible.
Meanwhile, in Deal our much-loved hospital – left teetering on the brink in 2010 – has seen staff numbers increase 17% since last year, from 126 to 147. Real strides are also being made in local mental healthcare. The trust in charge is closing in on being rated Outstanding overall.
Across East Kent, A&E performance has risen to 78.7% in the last fortnight in terms of patients treated within four hours of arrival. With an extra £800,000 of central government investment, our hospital trust has recruited ten new specialist emergency doctors, installed three new treatment areas and a new ambulatory care unit.
Meanwhile, an application for a brand new medical school run by Canterbury's two universities will be submitted by the end of the year. Getting a medical school will be a huge boost for Kent. It will mean we can train doctors locally and get more GPs in Dover and Deal. This is why I organised a meeting in Westminster last week with local health chiefs and Kent MPs. We are all working hard to make the medical school a reality.
I have been really encouraged by the hospital trust's new leadership team and the improvement plan they have implemented. The recent good work must continue because patients in Dover and Deal deserve the best treatment possible.
We've come a long way but there is still much more to do. An extra £10 billion in real terms is going into the NHS, bringing the budget to more than £120 billion – three times what we spend on schools. Yet locally we want more services, beds and more mental health support. That's why we must keep fighting for a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal.
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