Published: 10:03, 15 October 2019
| Updated: 10:34, 16 October 2019
Hotel rooms have been booked for cancer patients requiring daily treatment as part of a hospital trust's efforts to prepare for Brexit.
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) has published information on some of the steps it is taking ahead of Britain's exit from the European Union on October 31.
Many fear Maidstone in particular, given its proximity to the M20, could suffer severe congestion if there are issues or delays at the ports, as was the case when Operation Stack was regularly deployed in 2015.
As a result, health chiefs have held a series of meetings over how the trust can best ready itself for a "worst case scenario" post-Brexit.
One of the actions being taken is booking hotel accommodation for patients who are on essential, complex medication and require daily treatment.
The trust insists this tactic is a precautionary measure, and not dissimilar to plans made throughout the year to cope in instances such as extreme weather.
It was also revealed earlier this year that hospital bosses in east Kent had also booked hotels for key clinical staff as part of its own planning operations.
Other plans at MTW include employees working from home or at another hospital base and organising collections of staff from a nearby railway station.
A report also notes Maidstone Hospital's helipad should be completed in time for Brexit and therefore is available for helicopters to transport patients and essential supplies in exceptional circumstances, while motorcycle couriers have also been identified for transporting urgent blood samples.
Kent hospital trusts have previously rejected requests made under the Freedom of Information Act by KentOnline to receive details of their Brexit contingency plans, claiming such release could be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs.
A trust spokeswoman said: "Our recent preparations include reviewing staff rosters to make sure enough staff can get to work in the event of traffic disruption and planning alternative transport options for certain supplies.
“We have also booked a small number of hotel rooms, as a precautionary measure, to ensure we can continue to treat those patients requiring daily treatment.
"In addition we will provide adequate warning of any difficulty getting to and from our hospitals to help our staff and patients plan their journey effectively.
“We are working in partnership with other agencies across Kent and the wider NHS on our EU Exit resilience planning and are confident that we are as prepared as we can be.”
More by this authorTom Pyman