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'Health services in east Kent are long overdue major investment to improve the quality of patient care, provide services in a way that sees more patients more quickly and makes more staff want to work here, and ensure all our hospitals are fit for the future'.

That is the opening paragraph in the summary statement I signed up to recently, which was then shared with our local MP's to garner their support.

Working as a lay member supporting NHS clinical leaders and health professionals as a member of the Sustainable Healthcare in East Kent Committee I felt we were getting near to accessing the funding required.

For too many years clinicians in our local hospitals have been doing their very best to provide services from hospital buildings that are simply not up to date and many settings have reached the end of their useful life.

Our key proposal is to invest £450 million of capital from national public funds and we made it quite clear 'there is no option to deliver the required level of much-needed improvements for patients that does not require significant investment'.

Our committee also made it very clear - there was complete agreement that the current situation is untenable and that 'no change is not an option in east Kent'. We called for 'wholesale improvements to local services, not tinkering around the edges'.

After six years of intensive and detailed work, developing a comprehensive pre-consultation business case which has widespread support, it is vital that funding is identified for this urgent transformation.

'It is only by making major changes, backed by long overdue investment, that we can ensure east Kent's services are the very best they can be, for the benefit of patients, staff and the wider public'.

At our very last briefing on 16th June, due to wider organisational changes across Kent & Medway, clinicians and lay members who have been overseeing the east Kent plans for several years were stood down from the committee and it was somewhat unclear just how the bid will now be progressed.

My concern is that with our NHS in Kent & Medway 'currently transitioning' from a Clinical Commissioning Group into an Integrated Care Board 'the ball might be dropped' and momentum lost for the bid, which is at a crucial stage.

I urge all those responsible through the newly created integrated care system to move swiftly and take full advantage of the compelling evidence base amassed over the past six years.

Our committee summed matters up perfectly:

'It is more important than ever that our hospital services, working as part of an effective integrated care system, are on a sustainable footing for current and future generations'.

The Sustainable Healthcare in East Kent Committee have been overseeing work on the east Kent bid for the past six years. The meeting above took place in Folkestone before COVID drove committee business online.


Clive Hart
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