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Public backing for combined hospital and GP proposals

A new combined hospital and GP surgery has moved a step closer after an NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided to progress its preferred option following support from the public.

On July 25 the NHS West Kent CCG’s Governing Body heard that 94% per cent (1,089) of the 1,159 people responding to a survey carried out as part of a three-month public consultation backed a combined hospital and surgery in Edenbridge.

Seventy-nine per cent (915) supported the preferred option – for services to be provided in a new building, on a new site, with additional day services and no inpatient beds.

A doctor at work. Stock picture.
A doctor at work. Stock picture.

The preferred option was also backed by the board of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides almost all the services based at the hospital and in people’s homes in Edenbridge, and by the GP partners of Edenbridge Medical Practice.

Ian Ayres, Accountable Officer of NHS West Kent CCG, said the development of a new combined facility in Edenbridge was in line with the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which sets out a vision for health and care services for the future in Kent and Medway.

“The plan talks about the need to strengthen GP care for the future,” Mr Ayres said. “The changes we are discussing today means we will be able to keep GPs in Edenbridge for the long term, and to put services around them, to support patients in their own homes.

“In west Kent, the plan probably requires more beds in fewer, larger units, in the community – and this change is absolutely consistent with that too.”

Dr Bob Bowes, Chair of the CCG, said he was impressed by the commitment from the GP practice and the hospital staff to work together to improve care for patients.

“They are looking at a high level of integration, with multi-use rooms, shared space, and the potential for more work to support people in their own homes and GPs working with the minor injury unit, rather than separately from it,” Dr Bowes said. “It is exciting for everyone.”

The Governing Body was told that despite large numbers of people who responded positively during the consultation, not everyone was in agreement, and some correspondence had been received from people who clearly did not hold the view expressed by the majority.

It agreed to progress option 1a, for there to be a combined hospital/ surgery, in a new building, on a new site, with no inpatient beds.

The CCG is now setting up an implementation group to do detailed work on potential sites, planning and finances for the new facility.

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