A consultation on options for a brand-new combined hospital/surgery in Edenbridge was launched by local NHS organisations on 1February 2017.
It comes after the vast majority of local people asked for their views by the NHS last summer supported the idea of the GP practice and community hospital services being under one roof.
Ian Ayres, Accountable Officer of NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We have listened to what you told us and are now launching a formal consultation on four options for a combined hospital/surgery.
“It is an exciting, unique, opportunity for NHS organisations to work together to improve health services that will benefit people now and future generations.”
The CCG, GP Partnership at Edenbridge Medical Practice and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust believe the best option for Edenbridge is a combined hospital/surgery in a new building on a new site. A facility which can offer outpatient clinics and day care (such as intravenous drips provided on a daily basis), not currently available in Edenbridge.
This would mean different arrangements for the small number of Edenbridge people – usually no more than two at any time – who use the beds at Edenbridge hospital.
Mr Ayres said: “We believe that our preferred option will benefit the greatest number of people in Edenbridge, will best meet local people’s needs – frail older people, young families and the whole community - and will allow us to make best use of the staff and funding available. We have been clear from the start that, while we are not cutting funding, there is no extra money to spend on running services in Edenbridge. This is a real opportunity to build a modern facility, and secure health services for Edenbridge into the future.
"We now want to hear from you as part of our formal public consultation about whether you agree and any problems you can see."
The consultation is in response to issues with the GP surgery and community hospital, which are almost 100 years old, no longer meet modern requirements, and limit the care that the GPs, nurses and other health professionals can offer.
Refurbishing the hospital is not an option because even after major changes, the building would not fully meet the existing and future needs of Edenbridge.
Last year people from Edenbridge and the surrounding area were asked for their ideas to improve the care they get from their GP and NHS staff in the community.
More than 400 people responded to the questionnaire and more than 300 attended meetings. The vast majority of those who gave their views supported the idea of the GP practice and community hospital services being under one roof, but had mixed views on the location for this.
People recognised that, with the growing population due to new housing, Edenbridge and nearby villages are in desperate need of more GP services as well as wanting a wider range of health services, in particular, maternity, children’s services, and end of life care.
The organisations involved, NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Edenbridge Medical Practice are responding to what the community said by presenting four possible options – all of which involve building a modern, purpose-built combined hospital/surgery.
Two possible options are given for sites: the hospital site or a completely new site.
There are also two possible options for what the new combined hospital/surgery would offer: a range of new services for people of all ages and particularly for frail older people, to keep them well and living in their own homes (but no inpatient beds) or inpatient beds (but no new services).
The NHS estimates between 500 and 1500 patients from the area every year could benefit from new services using day care beds (for instance, to administer drips or blood transfusions). On average, between 24 and 28 people a year from the area use an inpatient bed at Edenbridge Hospital.
Dr Simon Morrison, Senior Partner and a GP in Edenbridge for more than 30 years said: “This is a really exciting time for Edenbridge and a chance for us to provide healthcare facilities for future generations. In a new facility, we can offer more GP appointments – currently we are constrained by lack of space in the building - and more services for everyone, including pregnant women and young children.
“We also need a new facility to attract new good quality doctors and nurses. There is a national shortage of doctors and they can pick and choose where they want to work: we want them to pick and choose us.
“We can be much more innovative about how we do things. We are doing things well, the staff at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust are doing things well but together we can do them so much better.”
Sue Scott, Community Services Director at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust said: "We know the services provided by our hospital are vital and we are already delivering innovative, high quality care in the community.
“However, working side-by-side with GPs and the voluntary and community sector, in a new facility means we would be able to explore even more ways to treat patients, in a first-class environment.
“A new building could provide a new physiotherapy gym with increased space for patients to regain their strength, a day hospital tailored for patients with dementia and other long-term conditions, plus the potential for a wider range of clinics, where patients can receive additional treatments, like intravenous antibiotics, and go home at night.
“Your own bed is the best bed, as we know older people, in particular, recover faster at home. Working closer together, means we will be able to support more people at home or closer to home and avoid a trip to A&E or a hospital stay.”
The consultation will take place from 1 February and will close on 26 April. A series of public meetings have been arranged where representatives from these organisation will present their proposals and offer the public an opportunity to ask questions.
The meetings will be held at:
Rickards Hall, High Street
Tuesday 7 February 6.30 to 8.30pm
Eden Centre, Four Elms Road
Monday 13 March 4 to 5pm
WI Hall, Station Road
Saturday 25 March 11.30am to 1pm
Edenbridge Leisure Centre, Stangrove Park
Tuesday 25 April 6.30 to 8.30pm
No booking is necessary and tea and coffee will be served.
The meeting on Saturday 25 March will be hosted by MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat.
A full consultation document, and an online questionnaire to give your views on the consultation, are available on the CCG’s website at www.westkentccg.nhs.uk/edenbridgefuture, or paper copies can be picked up from:
- Edenbridge Medical Practice
- The Eden Centre
- Edenbridge and District War Memorial Hospital
They will be also available at each of the public meetings or by emailing email@example.com or calling 03000 424348.
This is the first stage in a long process. Once the outcome of the consultation is agreed, it will be necessary to seek planning permission and work with investment partners (such as NHS Property Services which currently owns the hospital building) to secure funding for the new building.
A decision on the outcome of the consultation is expected in the summer, with a view to starting the implementation of any changes in the autumn, although it could be some time before any visible progress is seen.
NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group plans and buys healthcare for the people of Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells and the southern part of Sevenoaks.