We need to make the most of Deal Hospital and bring in more services.
I was shown around the wards last week by Lesley Strong, chief operating officer of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust. I spoke to staff and patients, including 93-year-old Anna Goodey from Wingham Well who was suffering from hip pain.
I also chatted with matron Suzanne Vogle, nurse practitioner Marion Lucey and paramedic training practitioner Sam Foskett about how they had battled through winter pressures. I heard how some community nurses had walked five miles through the recent ice and snow to reach patients – and other nurses had stayed in hospital overnight.
Staff told me there is real potential for more respiratory services at the community hospital in London Road – and for pulmonary and cardio rehab services. They also said a community geriatrician should be stationed at the new GP hub set to open at the hospital in April. This would help older people receive treatment before they become too frail and end up having to go to busy hospitals like the William Harvey in Ashford. I am now urging the South Kent Clinical Commissioning Group to bring these services to Deal Hospital.
It was fantastic to meet with patients in Deal Hospital and to see the work of dedicated staff across the wards. The work they do really is incredible. This community hospital is such an amazing asset to our area and I'm determined that we make the best possible use of it.
We need to use common sense and make the most of the facilities. Although the East Kent coalfields closed some time ago, there are still people locally who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. More treatment for these sort of conditions should be available in Deal. Ms Strong told me the number of people using the minor injuries unit is up 10% on last year. Meanwhile, staff numbers are up 17% on 2016.
I am also fighting for more services at Buckland Hospital in Dover – including the return of treatment for age-related macular degeneration. The CCG told me they are in discussions with eye doctors and looking at training up more nurses.
We must not forget far we have come since 2010. In Deal, we saved our much-loved hospital from the brink. 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. The more people we can treat at places like Deal and Buckland to take pressure off the major acute hospitals, the better for everyone.
That's why I will keep fighting for a fairer share of healthcare in our corner of Kent.
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