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News in brief

 Bob Deans spent his first day as interim chief executive of Kent’s mental health trust visiting services in Maidstone. Mr Deans saw services at Priority House, The Pagoda and Trevor Gibbens Unit, in Hermitage Lane, as he started his 12-month stint at the trust, whose HQ is at Kings Hill. It serves 1.6m people and em- ploys 3,600 staff.

 Mixed ward sex compliance is improving but not quickly enough at Maidstone. Advice is being sought from the De- partment of Health and a re- view of ward configuration conducted.

A new dignity gown for pa- tients designed within the trust has been accepted by NHS Innovations for applica- tion for a design patent. This could produce an income for the trust.

A survey confirmed an im- provement in in-patient satis- faction.

 Investment in new beds and mattresses has helped reduce pressure sores/ulcers.

A successful recruitment campaign for nurses has sig- nificantly reduced vacancies to below 9%.

 Official opening date for the new hospital at Pembury is September 19.

 Patients are being assured about care in single rooms at the new hospital through leaflets, bedside folders and work by the vulnerable pa- tients committee.

Hospital fete ASUMMERfete in aid of Maid- stone Hospital League of Friends will be held on Satur- day, September 3 in the hospi- tal grounds, from noon to 4pm. Attractions will include a tombola, barbecue and stalls. Contact Pat Gaskin on 01622 726367 for more information.

Hospital faces ‘pain’ from Pembury project

MAIDSTONE Hospital may fall victim to the soar- ing costs of Pembury’s new hospital. Local campaigners fear the private finance ini- tiative (PFI) scheme will be “very damaging” in the long run. When Pembury opens this year it will be

the first NHS acute hospitalwith 100% single en- suite rooms for patients. But PFI critics are worried about the conse- quences of the initial £234m price tag rocketing to £640m as the NHS pays back £20m annually, plus inflation, over 32 years. NHS West Kent has asked the Department of Health to help meet the costs of the new hospital. A report to a recent board meeting said: “The challenges in and around the NHS in West Kent are high risk, (including)...the exceptional chal- lenge relating to the additional recurring costs of approx £20m associated with the new Pembury hospital.” The report added: “The extent to which these costs will be considered as exceptional and un-

PIONEERING developments at Maidstone Hospital mean that fewer patients have to travel to London for treatment. The local NHS trust’s Quality Account 2010-11 lists some of the latest breakthroughs, partic- ularly for tackling cancer. Radiofrequency ablation –

This relatively new technique for treating cancer of the liver, lung or kidneys involves the use of a hi-tech CT scanner. A fine probe is inserted into the tu- mour which generates heat and destroys it. The report added: “Previously cancer patients had to travel to one of London’s big teaching hospitals for this care, but not any more. Image-guided radiotherapy

– This new technology exposes tumours to precise doses of ra- diotherapy in a 360-degree cir- cle. It enables cancer doctors to expose the tumour to a more constant, exactly calibrated

avoidable is being determined at a national level as part of the McInsey exceptional PFI exer- cise...but it cannot be assumed that it will not be- come a health economy problem and should be recognised as a risk for theNHS in Kent and Med- way as a whole, including the trust itself.” The situation has angered Dennis Fowle, chair-

man ofMASH –Maidstone Action for Services in Hospital. He said: “MASH has been worried for years about

the costs of this PFI hospital within our local trust and the impact of its financial needs on the hospi- tal which really matters to local people. “We have been robbed of core services from Maidstone due to the demands of this new hos- pital and there is now great danger that the fi- nancial strain on the trust will be very damaging to the budget for Maidstone Hospital.” He added: “We are very worried that the quality

of Maidstone Hospital will continue to fall to meet the needs of a Pembury hospital no one here sees as local.”

Praise for breakthroughs in cancer care

beam of radiation, following its outlinewith complete accuracy. “Healthy non-cancerous tis-

sue surrounding the tumour is much better protected and pa- tients receive a more effective and faster treatment,” the report explained. Microscopic bubbles –A revolutionary technique to help detect breast cancer using micro bubbles. It will prevent thou- sands of women in the UK from having to have repeat surgery to remove glands in their armpit. The procedure, pioneered at

Maidstone Hospital, allows the sentinel lymph node to be lo- cated and tested without sur- gery. The annual report, covering Maidstone and TunbridgeWells hospitals, concluded: “Looking to the future, the creation of our centres of expertise will help other professionals sub-spe- cialise and become even more expert in different fields. “Our aim is to bring home

more of the 35,000 patients a year who travel to London for their care.”

Patient care given ‘permanent’ boost FEWER agency workers are being used at local hospitals, giving a boost to care standards. In 2010-11, Maidstone and TunbridgeWells NHS Trust had its lowest vacancy rates for several years across medical, nursing and allied health professionals. “This resulted in a decreased reliance on temporary staff and increased the trust’s ability to provide continuity of care,” said its annual Quality Report, which added: “The trust is continu- ing to reduce its agency use in 2011-12.”

Better hospital bus services

A £2 MILLION investment in bus services will improve travel to the new Tunbridge Wells Hos- pital with up to two buses an hour from Maid- stone.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is planning to spend the money over the next five years to enhance public transport for the hospi- tal, which opens fully in late September. The trust will contract with KCC, which will manage the improvements to the routes. The enhanced services will also mean up to six

buses an hour from TunbridgeWells and three per hour from Tonbridge The trust says the new services will be phased

Car wash Scouts

1ST Ditton Scouts cleaned up with a fundraising car wash at TaylorWimpey’s new homes site at Leybourne Chase. Armed with buckets and sponges out- side the sales office, the youngsters

12 Malling

cleaned 24 home-hunters’ cars in four hours, earning a total of £120. The house builder pledged to make a donation for each car washed, enabling them to offer their services for free,.

clean up

in where possible before the hospital opens and progressively after that due to the need for bus op- erators to acquire new vehicles. New hospital development director Graham Goddard said: “We looked very carefully at all the local routes most used by patients, visitors and staff by analysing the data we hold. “From this it’s clear that the most effective in- vestment of the £2m is by funding additional buses running to and from the key hubs – Maid- stone, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge – to the new hospital.”

Have you got news for us? Phone our News Desk on 01622 734735

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