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will go ahead’ Continued from page one proposal, which would have intro- duced a Waitrose supermarket, Debenhams and 17 retail units, Mr Dickmann told the Downs Mail: “We will still build it”. The MMC proposal promised


traffic improvements to Bearsted Road and J7 that would cost about £7m. Mr Dickmann was relying on Land Securities to gain planning permission and help fund these. He said: “This was an offer from


the beginning. Land Securities get- ting planning permission was an assumption we all made – but it was an educated assumption.” Mr Dickmann said that hewould


be willing to pay for some of the in- frastructure works, but added: “I am convinced that Land Securities will not take it lying down”. Lester Hampson, head of retail


development at Land Securities, said: “We are disappointed at the council’s decision. We would have created 4,000 jobs when combined with the medical centre. “The council’s retail consultants


and our retail consultants both agree that Maidstone will have 60% retail growth in the next few years, so there was a demand for this scheme.We will consider our next move carefully.”


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Junction 7 | News


NHS patients’wait for access to new hospital


MAIDSTONE’S new KIMS hos- pital at Newnham Court is not yet making its ultra-modern facilities available to NHS patients. “We are surprised and pressing


hard for a very early change of heart by the local NHS,” said Franz Dickmann (below), the KIMS pres- ident and Kings Hill entrepreneur who spent more than eight years turning his £95m dream to reality. “This hospital can bring so many benefits to the people of Maidstone and Kent.” He wants to


see KIMS, which opened in April off M20 Junction 7, available to GPs and patients through the choose-and-


book system for hospitals. He said that when planning per- mission was granted, Maidstone Council included a condition for 25% use by NHS patients and this had NHS support. Mr Dickmann said the localNHS


Key facts


 In the first three weeks there were 414 private patients (40% more than planned) in the 101-bed hospital, 80% of them from Maidstone.  The broad range of specialisms will develop during the summer.  The staff number will grow to 380 in addition to clinicians on call.  There are nine operating theatres and one nurse for every four patients.  The 200 parking spaces will soon grow to 400.


was sending patients to top Lon- don hospitals for specialist surgery thatwould be available at KIMS for 20% less than London charges and in some cases to higher standards, due to the most modern methods. “We can operate the hospital very successfully with private patients,” he added. “But this is not good news for NHS patients who will miss out on the very wide, top clin- ical expertise and the magnificent modern, safe facilitieswe offer.” Since last year, the tight local


NHS budget has largely been held by the GP-led West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, which has had concerns about the business


impact of KIMS on the finances of its two acute hospitals at Maidstone and TunbridgeWells. In answer to a Downs Mail ques-


tion at a meeting of the group’s governing body, chief officer Ian Ayres said it would be considering commissioning policies this au- tumn and if KIMS serviceswere se- lected, they could be used by next April. He said the 25% figure was a planning condition but not an obli- gation on the NHS. There was an interest in specialist services cur- rently provided by London hospi- tals but thesewere not yet available at KIMS.


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