With reconfiguration no longer a dirty word following the approval of plans for Chase Farm Hospital, other trusts may be more confident in getting service changes through while a Whitehall wind is seemingly behind them.
The NHS Kent and Medway cluster recently issued a statement explaining why East Kent’s chaotic maternity services should be reduced from four units to two. A clinical review has recommended concentrating resources at Ashford and Margate, while births would stop at Dover and Canterbury.
The cluster says reconfiguration follows an increase in demand in Ashford at the expense of Dover and Canterbury, but the latter have also been hit by severe staff shortages, forcing temporary closures this year.
“Choice of giving birth at two hospitals is the safest, fairest and most sustainable option,” said review chair Sarah Campbell. The Daily Mirror disagreed, describing the plans as “another blow to Britain’s crisis-hit maternity service”. A three month public consultation will start in October.
Similar changes are moving ahead elsewhere in England. The £234m Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury – the first NHS hospital in England to only have single rooms – was due to fully open this week. The new facility signals the demise of the old Kent and Sussex Hospital.
As HSJ revealed, the Royal Surrey County Hospital Foundation Trust has been preparing a bid with the private provider Circle to take over Epsom Hospital. But the trust’s plans don’t end there. It also announced it is “exploring” how it could work more closely with Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust. Options include sharing some back office services, and joint delivery of patient services.