03 NOV 2017

Twice as many clinics now operating at Buckland Hospital

Buckland Hospital is now operating almost twice as many clinics as when it first opened. A total of 32 outpatient specialities are based at the Coombe Valley Road site, delivering 9,895 clinics each year. It compares to 25 departments delivering 5,020 clinics at the end of 2015.

Seven new ophthalmic consultants have been recruited to work at the hospital, including in its brand new cataract surgery theatre. And health chiefs told me "good progress" was being made on getting GP services co-located at Buckland and creating a primary care hub.

The latest figures come as I held more crunch talks with local health bosses this week. Representatives from East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust and the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning group attended a meeting with Kent MPs I organised. We discussed improvements being made to A&E waiting times and plans for a medical school in Kent.

I'm delighted there are more services at Buckland. It's something I am constantly pushing for. The old hospital had been decimated over a decade, yet the opposite is happening in the new one.

But I still want to see 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.

The recent news follows positive healthcare developments elsewhere in east Kent. A&E performance, recently rated as one of the worst in the country, has improved by 5% 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, East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust has recruited ten new specialist emergency doctors, installed three new treatment areas and a new ambulatory care unit at the William Harvey, and expanded ambulatory care and provided a new combined surgical assessment unit at Margate. Meanwhile at Deal Hospital, new figures show staff numbers have increased 17% since last year, from 126 to 147. And in Canterbury, an application for a brand new medical school run by the city's two universities will be submitted by the end of the year.

People often say the NHS is underfunded by the Conservatives. It's simply not true. An extra £10 billion in real terms is going into the system, bringing the budget to more than £120 billion – three times what we spend on schools.

I have been really encouraged by the new leadership team and the improvement plan they have implemented. The recent good work must continue because patients in Dover and Deal deserve better.

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Charlie Elphicke

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