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Since my appointment as Lay Member for Patient and Public Engagement at NHS Thanet CCG last year, I have been urging local people to join our Thanet Health Network in order to keep themselves informed and - if they then so choose - get involved in the future provision of local health services for Thanet.

In the past few months my 'mission' to get local people and organisations involved and signed up to our network has intensified and I thank our local press and voluntary and community groups here in Thanet for their help in publicising that campaign.

So why is all this communication and involvement so important?

The East Kent Strategy Board - a collaboration of leaders working in the NHS and social care services across East Kent - has published a leaflet setting out a ‘case for change’ for our local health and care services. This leaflet provides some of the facts and figures about our health and care services in east Kent. It also describes the main challenges facing delivery of services over the coming years.

Another leaflet, setting the scene across the wider Kent and Medway area, has also been published. It explains what to expect and builds upon the work that is taking place here in east Kent.

Most importantly, taken together the leaflets describe the challenges but do not yet set out anything other than a high level solution - making sure we have the right teams of people working in the right places to best support people’s needs.

This is because there aren’t - as yet - any developed options for change.

Over the coming weeks and months clinicians, local health and care leaders, patients, carers and local communities will be urged to join the discussion and contribute to the emerging thinking about how to meet the challenges faced.

Once specific options are developed there will be a formal public consultation on them.

The 'Better health and care in east Kent' document was the first step in an evolving process and it gives the people of Thanet a unique chance to get informed right from the very start.

On so many different issues, over way too many years, I've seen our beautiful little corner of Kent left behind when striving for improved local services. This is our chance to become well informed, long before any formal consultation on future NHS services even begins.

I urge local residents to sign up online to Thanet Health Network to make sure you are kept informed and - if you so choose, more - involved over the coming months.

It's our NHS - let's show we care!

Click here to join THANET HEALTH NETWORK


Click here to read the East Kent document - TIME FOR CHANGE

Click here for the wider Kent & Medway TRANSFORMING HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE

Click here for a King's Fund overview on NHS SUSTAINABILITY & TRANSFORMATION PLANS

Clive Hart
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