Hospital services in east Kent need to change because the way in which we treat people with serious illness has changed. We can now support and treat many people closer to their home and, helped by a more flexible workforce and new digital technology, we are focussing on integrating local services to support people to stay well and manage existing health conditions more effectively. We also need to make sure that, when they need them, people can access specialist staff and equipment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our hospitals in east Kent have been struggling for many years to provide services in this way and are also trying to provide services from hospital buildings that are not fit for delivering modern healthcare.
In response to this, local clinicians have developed plans to improve outcomes for patients, make East Kent Hospitals an exciting place to work and provide modern, fit-for-purpose hospitals.
These plans have been articulated in a pre-consultation business case sets (PCBC) which sets out the proposals to improve hospital services for east Kent. The PCBC contains all the evidence and data to support the options which will be put forward for public consultation in due course. No final decision will be taken until after NHS Kent and Medway has run and considered feedback from a public consultation, alongside all other evidence
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on the NHS’ East Kent Transformation Programme. The doctors, nurses and other health professionals from both primary and secondary care working on the programme have understandably been focussed on patient care. The NHS Kent and Medway programme team was also redeployed to support the Kent and Medway-wide response to the pandemic.
Where we are now
The plans require significant capital funding from central NHS budgets, therefore the final pre-consultation business case must be approved by NHS England and NHS Improvement and capital funding must be allocated to the programme before public consultation can begin.
The pre-consultation business case (PCBC) was finalised and submitted to the South East NHS England and NHS Improvement Team at the end of 2020.
In July 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care announced it was seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from NHS trusts to bid to be one of the eight new schemes under the New Hospitals Programme.
East Kent Hospitals submitted its EOI with a bid to request the necessary capital funding for the East Kent Transformation Programme.
NHS Kent and Medway is now waiting to hear if East Kent Hospitals has been selected as one of the eight new programmes under the New Hospitals Programme.
A public consultation cannot start until the capital funding is secured and agreed; the decision on that sits with the DoHSC.