A better local NHS with more services being delivered in the community, closer to where people live, is one of my top priorities for our area over the next five years. Folkestone is already leading the way as the first town in Kent to offer patients access to a GP seven days a weeks, between the hours of 8am to 8pm, through the Royal Victoria hospital. Following the successful bid from the South Kent Coast clinical commissioning group, the Prime Minister’s challenge fund has also provided additional investment for an at home paramedic service for non-emergency treatment, and additional funds for the local mental health team.These improved community services will be extended across our district, and I believe will be particularly important for residents in Romney Marsh who can sometimes face lengthy and expensive trips to receive treatments in a hospital, that could just have easily been delivered in a local clinic if it had the necessary facilities.
Some people might say that this all sounds great, but does the NHS have the resources available to deliver this kind of a service. Firstly, the Prime Minister has set out his commitment this week, for a fully seven days a week NHS, and the government has pledged an additional £8billion a year in funding to help deliver this. However, improved out of hours services can actually save the NHS money and help them manage resources better. Often, patients will turn up at A&E to receive treatment out of hours simply because they do not think there is anywhere else they can go. This not only puts pressure on hospital services, but it means more minor complaints are being treated in the most expensive place in the NHS. It is far better for everyone, and especially the patient, if these kinds of treatments can be delivered out of hours in local clinics.
There have been a few local reports in the past week raising concerns about the future of the A&E centre at the William Harvey hospital in Ashford. The East Kent hospitals trust is carrying out a review of all its services, however there has been no proposal or recommendation to downgrade A&E at Ashford; nor do I believe there ever will be. The William Harvey is a busy hospital, perfectly located just off of a major motorway junction. It would be an insane idea to move A&E services from here; something I would totally oppose, but it is impossible to believe that such an idea would ever be recommended.
Last Friday I visited the Roofinglines and Sterlingbuild business which is located on the Park Farm trading estate. They specialise in home improvements, and particularly roof windows and skylights; selling directly to customers as well as to the building trade. The business has received support from the government’s Regional Growth Fund for East Kent, which has helped it to expand and take on new staff. The business has also just announced further plans for growth this year and I would like to wish them all the best for the future. You can find out more about the business through their website roofinglines.co.uk