Welcome to the health revolution MailMarks

IWELCOME major plans to revolutionise local health care. I see them as essential, honest and caring – and I wish local NHS and social carewell as they press on with this very big task. Most of us are close to our own GPs,

and they are at the forefront of changes. With an increasing and ageing population, they now face growing challenges, and budget-holding NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (led by doctors) is looking for answers without impacting on valued relationships with patients. In the greater Maidstone and Malling

area, our GP practices have been grouped in four clusters and they are encouraged to work together in manyways. Ultimately, this should lead to practices opening for longer hours on more days. Most practices will continue to operate

from their established premises, but I see a time when many will group in a larger building with more specialised staff offering a much wider range of services. This also helps GPs manage their working hours without overloading themselves. There will also be care hubs serving populations larger than the GP clusters, providing services not requiring a hospital seing. More community (rather than acute) hospitals are planned. Maidstone misses out altogether currently, so there should be good news here. Your NHS 111 phone calls will be more effective too, offering expert advice and appointments with GPs and urgent treatment centres. An important aim is to ensure the NHS

‘Bias’ a personal maer

IAMwriting in response to Mail Marks in theAugust 2017 edition of the Downs Mail. It relates to the article entitled “BBC doesn’t deserve licence fee”. Iwas surprised to see such a strongly- worded article against the BBC and clear right-wing political bias. Just as Mr Fowle does not expect to see (perceived) political bias on the BBC, I do not expect to see political bias in the local free paper. I thought the purpose of the Downs Mail

was to inform local people of local issues, not provide political opinion. I know that the BBC has strict guidelines on providing political balance and if reporting facts is perceived to be political bias then it is a personal maer for Mr Fowle, not one for the Downs Mail. I think Mr Fowle, as president of the Downs Mail, should remember that a significant proportion of the readership did not vote Conservative and did not vote to leave the EU. Many of us, including myself, are deeply concerned by Brexit and the government’s handling of it. I, for one, am gladwe have a media

which will question and hold the government to account, particularly in these difficult times. I see the BBC as a vital service and certainly trust it to provide well-informed and balanced news. Kinsa Thirkell, via email

42 Malling September 2017


provides a more joined-up service for patients involving health and social care in hospital, the community and our own homes. It is also reassuring to learn from the

local NHS that its current sustainability and transformation plan does not include serious changes to services in Maidstone Hospital and that our treasured and busy A&E has a secure future. But the government is looking for efficiencies as it tackles the huge NHS budget. Iwatch with interest as these promised improvements are reconciled with the local budget.

Getting the hump AS a motorist I hate speed humps and

now that most distinguishing warning marks on the road have worn away locally I abhor them. They have become difficult to identify in daylight – and just about impossible at night. Several times, I have been the driver

accused by passengers as they are jolted around the car. Yet I am driving carefully, considerately andwell within the speed limit. They have now become dangerous to

drivers and passengers. Unless KCC maintains them properly I see personal

Strong view on BBC

IWAS disturbed to read your president’s criticism of the BBC in yourAugust edition. Surprisingly, the remarkswere not because of the elitism, nepotism or the fact that it is run by, and for the benefit, of public schoolboys – all recent criticisms of the BBC. No, Mr Fowlewas irate because the BBCwas too far to the left of his own political views. Hewants to remove its funding and presumably shut it down or greatly curtail its output. It leaves me wondering where Mr Fowle

sits on the political spectrum. Jim Grogan, The Landway, Bearsted

Beeb’s content puzzling

IAMnot often driven to write to anyone these days, let alone a newspaper, but I do have to strongly agree with sentiments expressed by your columnist in the last issue of Downs Mail about the BBC. If it is not plainly obvious to those who control its charter that the BBC’s news output is no longer fulfilling the brief, then it ought to be up to the relevant government department to intervene. The national news coverage is not so

much skewed to being pro-Labour as how it treats the subject maer it reports. It will get prominence on the BBC if the

item is anti-Trump, anti-May, anti-Farage, anti-Brexit, anti-Tory, pro-SNP, anti-DUP,

injury claims arising. I note a new report says they also increase dangerous emissions from vehicles. They damage vehicles and my car springs need more aention than ever – an expensive business. They are costly to install and will be

costly to remove. I support sensible traffic calming measures. Speed humps are not one of them.

Keep Ramblin’ WITH the success of three days in

Mote Park this year Ramblin’ Man seems set now to become a permanent fixture. It has become very popular with

followers of rock music and as they visit from many parts they spendwell to improve the local economy. Noisewas always going to be the big

issue but organisers and Maidstone council have listened and neighbours appear much happier this year. It seems otherwise to be a popular, trouble-free event. Play on ...

A day to cherish’ I HAVE lived an hour’s drive from it

for years – and only just enjoyed a family visit (with grandchildren aged 12, 10 and 8) to the Rare Breeds Centre, Highland Farm, Woodchurch, near Tenterden. What a wonderful day for us all – I’m

not sure if all the delightful animals or staffwere more friendly.Wewere enthralled by the buerflies and birds of prey displays. Itwas a day to cherish.

pro-EU, anti-British, pro the climate change lobby, pro-gay rights or anti-church. Too many items, no maer how unrelated, are given a negative Brexit reference or spin. Foreign news will get precedence over domestic stories. Some bulletins are 80% about maers overseas. I will not say if any of the above reflects

my opinions or not, but I do expect the BBC’s flagship news programmes to report in a neutral, fair and balancedway. And if you think the BBC is bad, Channel

4’s news coverage doesn’t make any aempt to conceal its bias and left-wing agenda. But this is not a public service, licence fee-funded operation like the BBC and appeals to the trendies who enjoy C4’s alternative – and often very fine – output. I remember when Iwas much younger hearing Norman Tebbit banging on about the BBC’s left-wing bent and thinking he was a bit unhinged. Now, I think hewas right.

National newspapers can be as partisan

as they like. The Telegraph is a good newspaper and so is the Guardian – and you know what you’re geing. Local newspapers should be neutral politically – and Downs Mail does give everyone a fair shout – but their columnists can say whatever they like. Keep it up, Mr Fowle. E Andrews, via email


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