Published: 10:27, 06 September 2019
| Updated: 10:34, 06 September 2019
Hospital bosses have confirmed they have booked hotel rooms for key clinical staff as part of their Brexit contingency plans.
The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust – which runs the William Harvey, Ashford; Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Margate; Kent & Canterbury, Canterbury; Buckland Hospital, Dover; and the Royal Victoria, Folkestone – says it has booked a small number of hotel rooms for a short period after the Brexit deadline at the end of October.
There have been concerns the county could be gridlocked in the immediate aftermath of Brexit caused by delays at the channel ports.
The trust is said to be concerned there may be difficulties for staff getting to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford because of the possibility of Operation Brock being implemented.
That would see the the M20 between Maidstone and Ashford used to to hold lorries.
There may also be additional complications caused by the ongoing work to build a new Junction 10a at Ashford.
In a statement, the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said: “Like the rest of the NHS, East Kent Hospitals is putting preparations in place to ensure essential services for patients would continue to be available if local traffic routes were disrupted, in the same way it prepares for other potential disruptions, from heavy snowfall to flooding.
"Our preparation includes reviewing staffing rosters to ensure enough staff would be able to get to work in the event of traffic disruption and ensuring staff have adequate warning of any potential difficulty in getting to or from work, so they can plan accordingly. We have booked a small number of hotel rooms close to our emergency hospitals as a precautionary measure, for an initial two-week period.”
In April, it emerged Highways England was booking hotel rooms to accommodate traffic officers brought in to help with managing Operation Brock.
Highways England had deployed 80 officers from outside Kent to assist but is having to pay for them to stay in nearby hotels so they can get to incidents and offer back-up support quickly.
Transport minister Jesse Norman, responding to a written question by MP Grahame Morris, said: “Highways England have plans to redeploy 80 Traffic Officers under arrangements to support Operation Brock in Kent.”
The trust is said to be concerned that there may be difficulties for staff getting to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Kent & Canterbury because of the possibility of Operation Brock being implemented.