Health |News Hospital changes ‘evolving’

FEARS that services in Maidstone Hospital – notablyA&E – could be seriously reduced under the evolving NHS sustainability and transformation plan have been allayed. Dr Bob Bowes (pictured), chair-

man of the key fund-holding body, the GP-ledNHSWest Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, says there will be a “clinically-led evolution”, rather than dramatic change. The wide-reaching plan for Kent

and Medway aims to provide more care outside main hospitals. This could reduce many outpa- tient appoint- ments involving travel to Maid- stone or Pem- bury.

Kent and

Medway Trans- formation Part- nership (all

local NHS organisations, KCC and Medway Council) also wants to make best use of hospital specialist staff (in short supply in many spe- cialities) and reviews bringing some services currently provided at different sites together to im- prove patient outcomes and staff skills. NHS organisations must re-ap-

praise all expenditure, but this is unlikely to impact heavily on key services in Maidstone Hospital, be- cause of major reconfigurations

when trauma orthopaedics, women’s and children’s services were re-organised as the new Tun- bridgeWells Hospital opened. The greatest uncertainty is loca-

tion of three specialised larger stroke units between Kent’s seven acute hospitals to provide high quality 24/7 care in the first days after a stroke, with a target of two hours from stroke to clot-busting treatment one of the key priorities. Maidstone’s unit is relatively new and performs well, though

currently not against all areas it is measured. Evaluations continue and decisions are expected next summer, after public consultation. Dr Bowes quelled fears about re- ducing services in Maidstone’s A&E. He said hospital A&Eswere very busy now and capacity was required for an increasing and age- ing population. “Maidstone has nothing to fear,” he emphasised. Another priority is to reduce pressure on Kent hospitals cur- rently accommodating 1,000 peo-

ple not receiving hospital treat- ment and who could be looked after elsewhere with the right care and support. Liaisons increase, especially with

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, to encourage home or community care to pre- vent hospital admissions. A review will be held of services

in Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Medway and Darent Valley hospi- tals, with health professionals and patients helping to identify serv- ices that could be provided from a smaller number of sites to improve standards and save funds. One re- cent example is dermatology. Another key aim of the plan is an integral improvement in mental health and support. Dr Bowes said therewere serious financial challenges and “mone- tary tightness is now causing anxi- ety.

“We will be looking to cut back

in areaswe don’t consider provide value for money. People talk about NHS inflation being 4%. Our budget for growth is only 1%. This is particularly difficult after we have already made a series of sig- nificant economies in recent months.”

Watchdog praise for surgery Care hubs to

ASUTTON ValenceGPsurgery has been rated as outstanding by health watchdog, the Care Qual- ity Commission, in its latest re- port.

Cobtree Medical Practice, in Southways, received the overall grade after an unannounced com- prehensive inspection in June. It was rated as outstanding in

three categories for providing car- ing,well-led and responsive serv- ices, and as good in two sections for its safe and effective services. The report said that all of the 39

CQC comment cards it received were positive about the surgery, 22 used the words care or caring when talking about the staff and a third of the patients used terms such as outstanding or excep- tional to describe the practice. The CQC praised the practice

for its open culture in which all safety concerns raised by staff and patients were highly valued as integral to learning and im- provement. “All opportunities for learning

from internal and external inci- dentswere maximised. The prac- tice shared learning from safety

Dr Michael Heber

incidents with other practices on a regular basis,” said the report. Chief Inspector of General Practice, Prof Steve Fieldwas im- pressed with how the practice worked closely with other organ- isations and with the local com- munity in planning how services were provided to ensure they meet patients’ needs. For exam- ple, a child-themed fun day was held, which had doubled the

child take-up of flu vaccines. He said that the practice imple- mented suggestions for improve- ments and made changes to the way it delivered services as a con- sequence of feedback from pa- tients and from the patient participation group (PPG). For ex- ample, the centre had held a pub- lic meeting about a proposed merger of practices with the sup- port of the PPG. The practice had good facilities

and was well-equipped, while feedback from patients about their care was positive and con- sistently better than local and na- tional levels. There was also continuity of care, with 95% of patients seeing theirGPof choice compared to the national average of 59%. The centre, which is run by Dr Michael Heber and Sara Butler- Gallie, with Dr Siu Ling Wong, posted on its Facebook page:“We are proud to announce we have been awarded for the second time, outstanding. Thank you to all our terrific team at Cobtree and especially our PPG group who supported us on the day.”

ensure access to specialists

LOCAL care hubs to serve popula- tions bigger than GP clusters will be opened to ensure that a critical mass of services, with interdependency, can be delivered on a “safe, cost-ef- fective and sustainable basis”. The hubs will also be used by cli-

nicians and other professionals as re- quired by local areas including pathways for the vulnerable (frail, mental illness, long-term conditions, dementia).Oneaim is to reduce out- patient work in hospitals. West Kent CCG says initially it

has worked with key health providers currently commissioned to define the characteristics, culture and environment and the potential range of services to be delivered from a hub. Then it will work with a wider

range of stakeholders including KCCand borough and district coun- cils and the voluntary sector to iden- tify shared opportunities between health, social care and public health. The aim is to use where possible

existing buildings easy to access by the public.

Maidstone East September 2017 19

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