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There are important changes and improvements in the way hospital services are provided for young teens and children as well as babies. It's all about maintaining and improving the highest possible standards of care for our young patients.

As from Thursday, 22nd September Maidstone Hospital will continue to provide day surgery and
outpatient appointments, but not their overnight care - that will be done at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital. The children's ward in the new Tunbridge Wells Hospital will provide inpatient (overnight) care for children who need to stay in hospital. The ward has single en-suite bedrooms and each bedroom has a pull-down bed for a parent to stay.

There is also a soft play area for babies, a playroom for children and a teenage den for older children. The ward also has a parents' room with its own kitchen, shower and sitting room.

Dr Charles Unter, Consultant Paediatrician at Maidstone Hospital said: "I have worked at Maidstone Hospital for many years and am sure these changes will bring about better standards of care right across West Kent."

"Many services will continue at Maidstone Hospital and we will provide expert care for local children as before. Our new inpatient wards at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital will ensure that children who do need to be admitted to hospital continue to be cared for by teams of specialistdoctors, nurses and others with the expertise and experience to provide the best treatment and care possible."

He was supported by his colleague at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Dr Wilson Bolsover, who added: "Children will still be able to have most of their routine care locally, and we know that's important for families. Equally, when children need to be admitted into hospital, our new children's ward will ensure they are in the best hands and the right place to continue to receive the highest standards of care." Jenny Head, Paediatric Department matron at Tunbridge Wells Hospital confirms that the new facilities are popular with the patients and their families. "Parents love the single rooms and the fact they can stay overnight on a drop down bed in the room with their child."

Susan Clarke, a staff nurse on Hedgehog ward, one of the children's wards said: "The children like the choice of having their own space or having a shared play area with the others."

New facilities in our hospitals short stay paediatric assessment unit:

Maidstone Hospital will have a new short stay paediatric assessment unit (SSPAU). The whole children's service at Maidstone will be in one location and called the Riverbank Children's Unit.The new unit will be next door to the children's (paediatric) outpatients department in the same hospital. The new unit will have two separate areas, one for children who are having day case procedures and the other for children who need a short period of observation, but not hospital admission, after being brought into the A&E Department. The assessment unit and children's outpatients department will be staffed by children's doctors and nurses, providing high standards of care.

At the heart of the changes is the 'treat and transfer' principle. If children are taken to Maidstone Hospital and need more specialist care, their immediate treatment needs will be met before transferring them by ambulance to the Tunbridge Wells Hospital or a more specialist hospital if necessary.

The unit will be open during the day from Monday to Friday. A similar service will be provided in the new children's centre at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury seven days a week.
Some of the children seen in either assessment unit sometimes will need admission to the children's inpatient ward at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital.