Latest on urgent treatment centre plans for Gravesham Hospital and Darent Valley Hospital
PUBLISHED: 11:43 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:43 17 December 2019
Health bosses have not ruled out creating two urgent treatment centres following an "unprecedented" response to a key public survey.
Gravesham Community Hospital and Dartford's Darent Valley Hospital could both have urgent treatment centres to "mitigate" concerns raised by residents in a recent NHS consultation, Kent County Council's health and overview scrutiny committee was told on Monday, December 16.
Around 80 per cent of the 16,500 respondents told the North Kent CCG, which covers a population of 270,000, they favoured the siting of the urgent treatment centre in Gravesham due to site access issues at Darent Valley along with concerns about traffic, parking, and lack of public transport.
NHS bosses firmly stated that no final decision had been made, but they will look to "mitigate" the concerns raised by residents.
Bexley councillors said they feared having the site in Gravesham would put further pressure on their "inadequate" existing and neighbouring urgent treatment centre at Erith Hospital, as well as its service at Queen Mary's in Sidcup.
Bexley councillor Richard Dement (Con), who represents Sidcup, said he was worried there could be a "domino effect", which will see more patients travelling to Bexley rather than the facilities in Kent.
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His colleague, Cllr Alan Downing (Con), added: "Unless we get this right now, we are wasting our time coming to this joint health and overview scrutiny committee."
However, north Kent councillors felt the "overwhelming" response to the consultation, which rose from 2,500 to 16,500 in the last 72 hours of the 12-week survey, could not be ignored.
They also raised concerns about the impact of the proposed Ebbsfleet Garden City development, which has promised to deliver 15,000 new homes, and the congestion around the Dartford Crossing tunnels.
Health bosses said they were unaware about the shortage of public transport services to both Darent Valley and Gravesham hospitals until the concerns were raised in the recent consultation, which ran from August to November.
Cllr Ken Pugh (Con) suggested having urgent treatment centres at both sites, rather than just one.
Health representatives said it would be "challenging" to achieve due to staffing shortages and being under-resourced.
Kent and Medway Sustainability Transformation Partnership's (STP) programme lead for urgent care across the county, Gerrie Alder did not rule it out completely.
A decision will be made in January.