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Urgent treatment centres plan for Dartford and Gravesend hospitals agreed by Bexley councillors

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 January 2020

An urgent treatment centre will be created at Darent Valley Hospital. Picture: Google Maps

An urgent treatment centre will be created at Darent Valley Hospital. Picture: Google Maps

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More than £80m will be invested into the creation of two urgent treatment centres in north Kent.

A compromise deal has been reached following a long-running saga to determine whether to place an urgent treatment centre at Darent Valley Hospital or Gravesham Community Hospital.

The reconfiguration will see two linked urgent treatment centres placed in the Gravesend and Dartford hospitals. Both will be integrated with GP out-of-hours services, although Darent Valley's will also be connected to its A&E department.

The phased implementation is due to take place by autumn this year and the scheme is projected to cost £85m over the next five years.

Kent county councillor Bryan Sweetland (Con), who chaired the first joint health overview and scrutiny committee with Bexley Council at Maidstone County Hall on Wednesday, January 29, told NHS bosses: "You have pulled a rabbit out of the hat."

Several elected members unanimously backed the move after major concerns were raised by thousands of Kent and Bexley residents over an original idea to build one urgent treatment centre in north Kent.

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Anxiety was expressed over parking problems, lack of public transport, increased congestion and planned housing development, notably the future Ebbsfleet Garden City development of more than 6,000 homes.

NHS' director of strategic transformation for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley clinical commissioning group (CCG), Gerrie Alder, said: "We decided how the site options could be best adjusted to meet the views of the public, but equally reduce pressures at Darent Valley's A&E department."

The mitigated proposal was described as the preferred option due to the "good" town centre location for Gravesend while Darent Valley would be "beneficial" to Dartford and North Bexley residents who live nearby.

Gravesham member Cllr Dr Lauren Sullivan (Lab) said: "I'm very pleased with the compromise deal because I think it's the best of both worlds.

"We get to keep Gravesend and we have one at Dartford as well, so I think that covers both options really well.

"The closure of the walk in centre at Northfleet is a real shame, but that was a directive from Government."

Bexley Council's deputy mayor, Cllr James Hunt (Con), said he was pleased the health services in north Kent were not being "meddled" with and said: "The two options help us out a lot… the plan is much better and we are happy with it."

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