ACUTE CARE: Medway Foundation Trust could see some blue light ambulances sent to another hospital in response to public concern.

Swale CCG, which serves a population of more than 100,000, is carrying out a feasibility study on sending more emergency patients to Maidstone Hospital rather than Medway Maritime Hospital, which is run by Medway Foundation Trust.

In a statement to HSJ, Swale CCG said: “A number of clinicians and members of the public have… raised the possibility of attending Maidstone Hospital for their care.” It added there was “significant support” for Medway FT from local people and clinicians, who wanted to see concerns about care there addressed. 

Medway has been in special measures since July 2013 and is rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

The CCG believes the proposals – revealed in documents for the Kent County Council NHS overview committee – would also aid integration and align with social care by keeping patients within the Kent County Council area.

Under the proposals some ambulance patients would continue to go to Medway. These include maternity, obstetric and gynaecology patients, all under-16s, vascular, trauma, surgical and cardiac arrest patients.

The CCG says that identifying additional bed capacity at Maidstone Hospital was key if any changes in where patients are treated are to go ahead.

The CCG’s statement said: “For planned admissions this is already an option under choose and book arrangements. As part of its responsibility to the local population the CCG is looking at the feasibility of transferring blue light admissions from Medway Maritime Hospital to Maidstone Hospital.

“At this point the work is focused on the viability of making any such change, which would also be subject to the CCG going through due process, for example public consultation. Our priority remains to work with Medway Foundation Trust to address the identified quality concerns.”

A Medway Foundation Trust statement said: “The proposed measures would be subject to a thorough public consultation exercise with the people of Swale.

“This was first proposed following the CQC Inspection in August. We recognise that improvements have been made in the safe care of patients within our emergency department since that time. 

“We’re pleased to see that we continue to receive strong support from local people and clinicians. We will of course continue to engage and work with local healthcare partners as we move forward with exciting plans to modernise our emergency department for the people of Medway and Swale.”