NHS England South East region and Kent and Medway CCG are asking patients and the public for their views on medium-term proposals for specialised vascular services in East Kent, Medway and the Maidstone catchment of West Kent.
Vascular services reconstruct, unblock or bypass arteries and are often one-off specialist procedures to reduce the risk of sudden death or amputation and prevent stroke.
Currently specialised vascular services in East Kent, Medway and the Maidstone catchment of West Kent are delivered from two surgical centres – Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital at Canterbury.
The proposals would result in all specialised vascular surgery that requires an overnight hospital stay being transferred from Medway Maritime Hospital to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, which would potentially affect up to 265 patients a year.
In January 2020 emergency surgery was temporarily transferred from Medway Maritime Hospital to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital to ensure safe services 24 hours a day seven days a week. These proposals will formalise the move of emergency surgery and will also see the remaining complex surgery which still takes place at Medway Maritime Hospital relocating to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital to create an Inpatient Vascular Centre. Both hospitals will continue to provide day surgery, interventional radiology and rehabilitation after surgery.
As an inpatient vascular centre, the Kent and Canterbury Hospital would have:
- a new specialist operating theatre with a better range of facilities and equipment reducing the need for open surgery, and in turn reducing the length of stay in hospital and swifter recovery time
- a dedicated vascular ward with extra beds for emergency patients 24 hours a day
- vascular nurse specialists – able to support the transfer of patients back to their local hospital/home
- out of hours care which includes evenings and weekends, including on call vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists.
In addition, doctors, nurses and other professionals from each of the hospitals providing vascular services would work together as one team across east Kent, Medway and Maidstone providing the majority of care such as clinics and investigations for patients at their nearest hospital but with specialist surgery requiring a hospital stay provided at one specialist centre rather than two.
These are medium-term proposals which would be in place until a decision is made about how care across east Kent’s hospitals is organised following future consultation about the east Kent Transformation plan.
The majority of patients would continue to have diagnostics and outpatient appointments in local hospitals at:
- Maidstone Hospital
- William Harvey Hospital in Ashford,
- The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate
- Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham
- Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Medway Maritime Hospital would become an Enhanced Network Hospital providing day surgery, interventional radiology and rehabilitation. Clinics will also be available at other local hospitals including Dover and Sheppey to reduce the need to travel.
There are three main reasons for the recommended medium-term change to services set out as part of the consultation. The move will:
- Ensure the best outcomes and chances of survival for patients based on national best practice agreed by experts
- Ensure we have more specialists available 24/7 with the right specialist skills, equipment and infrastructure
- Meet national standards for vascular surgery
For a copy of the public consultation and link to on-line feedback go to https://jointheconversation.scwcsu.nhs.uk/vascular-services
No changes are proposed for patients from North Kent or patients whose local hospital is Tunbridge Wells Hospital who currently travel to London for treatment.
Four events in the local community will also be taking place for members of the public and patients to attend. These will provide an opportunity for clinical leaders to explain the proposals. Details of these events are set out below should you be interested.
Book your place online at https://jointheconversation.scwcsu.nhs.uk/vascular-services
9 February – 5-7pm
22 February – 10am – 12 noon
1 March – 10am – 12 noon
8 March – 5-7pm
This consultation, which is being run by NHS England specialised commissioning and Kent and Medway CCG working with the acute trusts in East Kent, Medway and Maidstone, will run up to 15 March 2022.