Changes to local care and hospital services

Following our posts announcing listening events and a survey about potential changes to local care and hospital services in East Kent we are now able to give the response from the NHS in East Kent to some questions about the proposals.

Why can’t all three hospitals have an A&E and specialist services?

Options that included running three A&E units were ruled out at the initial assessment of all possible options. There are two A&E departments in east Kent, and have been since 2005, and it would not meet the latest national guidelines nor be sustainable to provide three. National quality guidelines have been developed to ensure emergency care teams see enough patients to maintain and build their skills, so they can offer the highest quality care. To provide emergency care to the population of east Kent, within the national guidelines, we could have either two emergency centres with one providing a higher level of specialist services for the most critically ill and injured patients (option 1) or a single major emergency centre (option 2).

Under both options we would make sure that services to treat the less serious problems that many people currently go to A&E with would be available across east Kent. Currently around 4 in 10 of the patients seen in our two A&E departments do not need specialist emergency care and could be treated by urgent care services.

We are proposing to bring together specialist services at a single location because it means you are more likely to see a specialist in your condition 7-days a week, staff will maintain their skills by treating large numbers of patients for their speciality, and it will make it easier for us to attract and
keep staff.

This means we will be able to provide safe, sustainable, high-quality services, which we would not be able to do if they were spread across three sites.

Will it be safe if people have to travel further for treatment?

Clinicians are leading the development of our options and providing safe high-quality care is the top priority. For serious illness and injuries, the most important thing is to get patients to the right specialist care first time – not necessarily the nearest hospital. We know travel times are a concern for people. The accessibility of services is our second most important criteria for evaluating the options against. The top priority is the ability to provide acceptable clinical standards on an on-going basis. As part of finalising the options we will be looking closely at the potential impact on ambulance services and whether they would need additional resources.

Will GPs and community services really offer an alternative to hospital?

Services we have already put in place are helping frail older people and those with multiple long term conditions. They are reducing the number of hospital admissions and helping people get home again faster after hospital treatment.

Other examples now happening in east Kent include; small surgical treatments that used to need a hospital visit are now being done in GP surgeries and other community locations. Regular appointments to review patients with haemophilia are now happening online with patients using an app to send results to their doctors; avoiding the need to travel to a hospital appointment.

Will the preferred option for a hyper acute stroke unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford be affected by these proposals?

Under option two a new hospital in Canterbury would become the major emergency centre for east Kent and we would anticipate any hyper acute stroke service would also move with the other specialist services, subject to a formal public consultation.

[Read more about the proposals for a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit]

Is this all about cuts and saving money?

The proposals would mean a significant investment in the NHS in east Kent. They would provide higher quality specialist hospital service and more care through GPs and other community services for everyone in east Kent.

Helping people to stay healthy, avoid hospital admissions and get home without delay after hospital treatment would help us to provide better care. After the initial investment to improve services, the new ways of providing care would offer better value for money in the long term.

Why are there not more public events?

During this current stage of pre-consultation engagement, we are holding two public meetings in each of the four Clinical Commissioning Group areas one day time and one evening. There is also an online survey and we are conducting street surveys and community group discussions to gather feedback. The online survey is open until 25 November 2018. More information more about the proposals can be found at

There will be a full public consultation on the proposals in future, during which we will be running more public events in other locations across east Kent alongside further activities so we can collect as wide a range of views as possible.

People can also write to us at or
by post to Freepost Plus RTEGRHKB-EJGJ, NHS Kent and Medway Commissioning Support Unit, Kent House, 81 Station Road, Ashford, TN23 1PP. Please mark any letters clearly with East Kent Options.

When will the full public consultation happen?

These events are part of a “pre-consultation” stage. Your feedback will help us finalise the options that go on to a full public consultation. We have not set a date for the consultation because the proposals are still in development and will need to reviewed and approved by NHS England and clinical experts in the South East Clinical Senate. When the formal consultation does happen there will be more public events across east Kent alongside a wide range of other ways for people to give their views.

East Kent Listening Events Autumn 2018 – Questions and answers
Transforming NHS health and social care in Kent and Medway

The Listening Event in Ashford on 15th November is now fully booked.

The online survey is open until 25 November 2018. More information about the proposals is here and the survey link is here.

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