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My attendance at the East Kent Joint Commissioning Group.

Health commissioners met last week (30th Nov) in Folkestone and agreed TWO POTENTIAL OPTIONS for urgent, emergency and acute medical care and SIX POTENTIAL OPTIONS for planned inpatient orthopaedic care here in east Kent, SHOULD BE ASSESSED FURTHER, to see which should go forward to public consultation next year.

It was a meeting held in public and there were some quite complicated discussions.

I just want to clarify my part in these proceedings as a lay member for patient and public engagement involved in the process.

Following a detailed presentation we were given on the options paper I made the following comments:

Firstly, in relation to urgent, emergency and acute medical care I raised the following points:

With regards to the one-hour travelling ‘hurdle’ criteria, I said that I understood the matter had been discussed through public meetings and at engagement events across east Kent but that moving forward, in any proposals to move any services between either of the two outer geographically based hospitals (QEQM or William Harvey) a significant proportion of the population would fall into the outer limit of the maximum one hour travelling time criteria.

I also made the point that in the case of Thanet (as an example), there were several areas of deprivation where car ownership was also significantly less likely amongst the local population.

We were given assurances that an equality impact assessment would be part of the forthcoming investigations and that these very issues would form part of that process.

When the meeting moved on to planned inpatient orthopedic care I repeated and further broadened my concerns around access.

I said that I fully understood the need for best practice and the improved outcomes that ‘centres of excellence’ were more likely to provide, but that when travelling, by the very nature of their conditions, many of those accessing planned operations would be very unlikely to drive themselves.

I then repeated my concerns regarding deprived communities and transport.

I also made the point that in many cases involving planned operations, recuperation was also a factor and that the patients families and carers also needed to be able to visit. I pointed to a hospital trust in Sussex that had just that very day extended visiting to 24 hours because of the benefits to morale and outcomes for patients their presence provided.

Again, we were given assurance that an equality impact assessment would be part of the ongoing process.


Clive Hart
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