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There’s probably not much to choose between the windswept beaches of East Kent and the Middle East. Lots of sand, a bit desolate in places, and occasionally a feeling of being on the edge of the world.

But Professor Stephen Smith, who is not applying for a second term as chair of East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust and is instead focusing on a “a major international health transformation programme” in the Middle East, may find life a little quieter away from East Kent.

Professor Smith has been chair at EKHUFT for two and a half turbulent years, which culminated in the Care Quality Commission announcing it was prosecuting the trust over fundamental standards of care.

The trust is still awaiting the go-ahead for a planned reconfiguration – which has yet to complete the NHS England/Improvement approval process and then public consultation. Meanwhile the bad news keeps coming – last week the BBC carried allegations of a toxic culture.

One difference between East Kent and the Middle East may be the weather – but Professor Smith may view his time in Kent as having been quite hot enough.

A positive amid the pandemic

Unexpectedly, public satisfaction with NHS hospital services has soared during the coronavirus pandemic despite the widespread cancellation of operations, the rapid switch to digital delivery and restrictions on visits, according to an exclusive analysis shared with HSJ.

The increases in positive feeling toward the NHS between March and September have been particularly dramatic in maternity and emergency care.

PEP Health aggregates around 10 million social media and online comments about NHS services each year. Machine learning is used to produce a rating of eight quality domains on a scale of 1 to 5. This enables a close to real time picture of public sentiment about the NHS.

The average score for maternity rose from 4 in March to 4.4 in September. This is despite significant worries about relatives being prevented from being present at births by infection control measures. Commons health and social care committee chair Jeremy Hunt said of this concern last month: “I fear we’re getting the balance badly wrong in maternity care.”