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News | Health Trust looking

to the future MAIDSTONEand TunbridgeWells NHS Trust and Medway NHS Foundation Trust are involved in significant strategic discussions. Between them they operate three

major hospitals – at Gillingham, Pembury and Maidstone. They have agreed to announce:

 A strategy for development of acute (main) hospital services.  A strategy for planned (elective) surgery and care. This could in- volve creating specialist centres for planned surgery such as hip and knee replacements. Evidence suggests this can lead

to improved care for patients, in- cluding faster appointments and reduced risk of cancellations.

KIMS changes

WEST Kent CCG has been moni- toring KIMS Hospital, Maidstone, since a September report that it re- quires improvements and says it is assured by measures put in place.

Boundary plan MARDEN GP Surgery has applied to reduce its boundary towards Sta- plehurst and Coxheath and West Kent CCG says consultations take place.

Vision for beer community care

THE draft plan to transform physi- cal and mental health and social care services in Maidstone and Malling, together with the rest of Kent, has been revealed. It sets out a vision for better health,

well-being and standards of care by achieving more both from staff and funding available, encouraging tar- geted voluntary support from com- munities and advising on self-help. A key aim is “joined-up services”

to provide more treatment and care at home and in the community, es- pecially to enable patients to leave hospital when medically fit. “Your own bed is the best bed,” the plan says.

Significantly, health and social

care professionals will work as a sin- gle team in their areas and have im- mediate access online to patient records (if consent is given). Much greater use will be made of computer technology, from booking appointments online, patients get- ting help without visiting a GP or clinic (see right), assessment and di- agnostic systems to advice on apps to monitor health.

“Timely appointments with the

right professional at the right time” is another target, as is regular moni- toring. The NHSwants the public to take greater responsibility in managing their own health (especially weight control, exercise and smoking) and will provide better access to advice and services to reduce the risk of se- rious illnesses. Information will help patients ac-

cess support from voluntary, chari- table and local community groups and services. Hospital care is very expensive to

theNHS– but the promise is to pro- vide high quality carewhenneeded. When to see

your doctor DR BOB Bowes, chairman ofWest Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, told the Downs Mail in the right setting, phone calls, emails or Skype/Facetime workwell. Sudden or serious illness would

not usually be safe without a doc- tor examining a patient, whereas control of long-term illnesses could be.

Somepatientswere able to gather

their own clinical data (blood pres- sure, blood/sugar readings, weight etc) and conveying this by, say, email to their GP. He added: “I would say about

60%ofmypatientswhocontact the surgery for an appointment that day can be treated without a face- to-face meeting. “A telephone conversation can

help to decide if an appointment is needed. Many patients value the convenience of not having to visit the surgery.”

Avoidable deaths

ABOUT 4,000 people a year die early in Kent from diseases which are “mostly preventable” and 240,000 of over-50s live with long- term disability which could be po- tentially delayed or avoided.

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