News £12m mental health care boost

ELDERLY patients are expected to receive better care in Kent as the NHS unveils £12million plans to revamp mental health services over the next 18 months, writes Ciaran Duggan.

The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to create new accommoda- tion for 16 older residents with mental health conditions, such as dementia, at Maidstone Hospital, in Hermitage Lane.

They aim to offer “high-qual-

ity” single en-suite bedrooms, as well as a lounge and garden where patients can relax and so- cialise. The site will also be made COVID-19 secure.

Karen Benbow, the Kent CCG’s director of system commission- ing, said: “This will provide a fan- tastic therapeutic environment for patients.”

Picnic tables

are set alight A FUNDRAISING page has been set up after picnic benches near a nature reserve were set alight in Staplehurst.

The fire in The Bartons on June 14 is thought to have been started deliberately. Nobody was injured. A Kent Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “One fire engine attended and crews used flexi- packs and fire buckets to extin- guish the fire. No casualties were reported. It’s believed the fire was started deliberately." Residents say the blaze is the latest of many fires in the village, with firefighters called to the same site just weeks before. One resident, who did not want

to be named, said: “Sadly this is one of many fires that happen in the nature reserve. “If it’s not the fire brigade, it’s

the local residents intervening to put the fire out.

“Lots of antisocial behaviour happens down there most week- ends – drugs, underage drinking and all the rubbish left behind.” To donate, go to https://go-

School raffle

FRIENDS of Ryarsh Primary School are holding a summer raf- fle on July 4.

Tickets are £1 each. The party will be held via Zoom if the event is cancelled.

Call Rebecca on 07904183159 to buy tickets.

Her comments came during a virtual meeting involving Kent County Council’s (KCC) health scrutiny committee earlier this month.

This forms part of a £650m pledge from Boris Johnson’s Gov- ernment to remove “outdated” mental health dormitories across the UK.

Under this, the Maidstone unit will replace an “old-fashioned” mental health ward, operating at Medway Maritime Hospital with 14 beds. Some elderly patients may be required to travel 12 miles from the Windmill Road site in Gilling-

ham to Maidstone. About 30% of elderly people using Medway hospital’s Ruby ward live in the Medway Towns and neighbour- ing Swale. The remaining 70% are based in west Kent. It is hoped the experience of pa- tients and loved ones will im- prove with the proposed changes. The total number of beds will also increase by two.

There are four other mental health wards based across the county for people aged 65 and over. They include Heather ward in Canterbury and Woodchurch on the QEQM site in Margate, Thanet.

Two others are based at Darent

Valley Hospital in Dartford: Or- chards and Jasmin wards. Vincent Badu, deputy chief ex-

ecutive of the Kent and Medway NHS and social care partnership trust, said: “We assess the needs of the patient and allocate them to the appropriate bed, based on their needs rather than geograph- ical location.” KCC’s health scrutiny commit- tee gave their support to the NHS-led plans. Construction work will begin at Maidstone Hospital in October and is expected to be completed by November next year.

From flight-handling to 999 role

DAVID Ruiz-Celada has been ap- pointed as the new executive direc- tor at South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). He will join the trust in September

this year and will focus on delivering timely patient care. Originally from Barcelona and an

aeronautical engineer by training, David has spent the last decade working in the aviation industry. He has worked across airlines and

air handling operators in Spain and most recently at London City Air- port.

SECAmb chief executive officer Philip Astle said: “I am really pleased

to have appointed David to this im- portant role and I am confident his character, personality and experi- ence will prove hugely beneficial. “I would like to formally welcome

him ahead of his arrival in Septem- ber and look forward to working closely with him in future.” Mr Ruiz-Celada said: “I am de-

lighted to be joining the team and look forward to meeting the col- leagues who day-in, day-out make a difference to our communities. “I trust that my slightly different

background will bring in a new per- spective that will help make the ser- vice even better.”

Appeal after racism claim

DO YOU know who this woman is? Police want to talk to her in connection with allegations of racial abuse in Maidstone town centre.

This CCTV image was ob- tained around the time it was re- ported that a pedestrian was subjected to threats and then fol- lowed, during an incident in Wheeler Street on May 18. A police spokesman said: “The victim had initially been at a pedestrian crossing when a per- son unknown to her is alleged to have started shouting abuse and making threats. “After the victim was followed

towards a nearby shop, the sus- pect was refused entry and left the scene.”

Police call after brawl

A MAN was taken to hospital after a mass brawl outside a pub in Headcorn.

The fight reportedly happened outside the George and Dragon pub at around 6.10pm on June 13. It is alleged two men were as- saulted, one of whom was taken to hospital and has since been dis- charged. An eyewitness said forensics at- tended and officers put blue tape around the scene. An investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police on 01622 604100, quoting reference 46/101919/21, or contact Crimestoppers anony- mously on 0800 555111.


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