Published: 00:01, 15 February 2019
Residents have been left “horrified” by plans to relocate health services when a new urgent treatment centre (UTC) is opened.
Walk-in services and a GP surgery will be moved when the UTC arrives next year.
NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed the town’s Whitehorse Surgery and the Fleet Healthcare Campus, both in Northfleet, will relocate to wherever the new UTC goes.
At the moment, bosses have asked locals for their views on a proposal the centre is created at Darent Valley Hospital. Last year, the group also considered Gravesham Community Hospital, Bath Road, Gravesend, as a possible location.
The new UTC will be placed at either of the previously mentioned sites and treat minor illnesses and minor injuries. A public consultation will take place later in the year.
If it is opened at Darent Valley Gravesham Community Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit would also relocate there.
Sarah Carpenter, 33, of Stanhope Road, Swanscombe, was shocked to hear of the proposed moving of services to Darent Valley Hospital and thinks it will “put people’s health at risk”.
The teacher said: “If you have ever visited the hospital, you will know it struggles to treat the hoards of people who flood through its doors. There is not sufficient parking and the parking fees are high. People queue for spaces and I have even seen stewards controlling the parking.
“How on Earth are people going to get to Darent Valley and park to use the proposed UTC? It will be completely inaccessible. It simply cannot treat that amount of people effectively and I truly believe people’s health will be put at risk.”
Miss Carpenter says new houses being built in Ebbsfleet, Greenhithe and Dartford and increase in families living in them will put a strain on the health services.
She added: “The people who need treatment is on the rise. Houses are being built in this area on a daily basis and many of these are aimed at families who will also need to access these services.
“We need more healthcare services not taking away the ones we do have.
“When I was having my daughter at Darent Valley, the midwife explained they would have to turn people away as they were full.
“I would hate to see history repeat itself and more people be turned away that are in need.”
A CCG spokesman said: “We are currently exploring two options with the public for where this may be located, in anticipation of a full public consultation later this year.
“In the meantime, both the Whitehorse Surgery registered list, and the walk-in centre at the Fleet Health Campus in Northfleet, will be provided until July 1 2020, when we expect the new UTC to open.
Patients can complete the survey until Thursday, February 28, online at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/urgentcaredgs