Published: 12:00, 02 April 2014
| Updated: 12:14, 02 April 2014
Kent’s newest hospital received a Royal blessing today.
Prince Richard, the grandson of George V and a cousin to The Queen, was in the County Town to open the new £90m Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery.
The private hospital near Newnham Court by junction 7 of the M20 was built by Vinci Construction in less than two years. It will eventually house 350 clinicians and will provide some specialist services for the NHS.
Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, was greeted by Franz Dickmann, president of KIMS, and a welcoming party of the county's great and good, including the Chief Constable of Kent, Adam Pughsley; the chairman of KCC, Cllr Eric Hotson; the Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Clive English; Maidstone Borough Council's chief executive Alison Broom, the KIMS chief executive Jayne Cassidy; the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Lord De Isle, and the High Sheriff of Kent, Lord Colgrain.
"The people of Kent will now know they will get the very best medical attention right here, instead of having to go to London..." - Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester
The Prince toured the hospital and was particularly interested in the MRI scanners, the operating theatres and the intensive care ward.
Afterwards, the Prince, who trained as an architect, praised the building as having exactly the right spaces for a very complex organisation.
He said: "You have the right building and the right facilities. The other side is the human team, which is excellent.
"The people of Kent will now know they will get the very best medical attention right here, instead of having to go to London."
The Prince, who arrived a fashionable 10 minutes late, stayed for well over an hour,
The hospital will take in its first out-patients on April 22, with the first operation a week later.
It will provide complex surgical care, day treatment, outpatient consultations and diagnostic imaging for a variety of clinical specialities.
These will include a specialist paediatrics unit and a specialist women’s health unit, including a new maternity birthing facility for Maidstone, and pathology laboratories providing a central facility for use by Kent hospitals.
KIMS will be supported by a medical campus, now under construction, on adjacent land.
Video: Duke officially opens hospital
Franz Dickmann, the KIMS president, said: “This is the culmination of a dream."
Cllr Malcolm Greer, Maidstone council's cabinet member for regeneration, said: "This will prove a life-changing event for Maidstone."
Earlier in the day the Prince visited Audley Mote House, a retirement village in Bearsted.
He planted a commemorative tree in front of Mote House to mark his visit.
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