Michael has launched a defiant defence of Sevenoaks Hospital following the announcement that King’s College Hospital Trust is to withdraw its services.
He recently demanded assurances that the hospital will remain open from the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the other services at the hospital.
In a response, Dr Bob Bowes, Clinical Chair of West Kent CCG, confirmed that all patients seen under existing arrangements will either continue to be seen at Sevenoaks, but by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust staff, or will transfer their appointments to Princess Royal University Hospital.
Dr Bowes also confirmed that Sevenoaks Hospital is part of a wider review of local health services. Michael is concerned about this process and will continue to watch developments closely.
Michael said: “I have always defended Sevenoaks Hospital against the threat of closure. I am as determined as ever to protect the vital services it offers for local people. I want to see more services in Sevenoaks, not less.”
Michael is currently awaiting a response from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and has requested a meeting with the Chief Executive.
In the first of a new monthly column for the Sevenoaks Chronicle, Michael has written about his support for a new GP surgery in Dunton Green:
Following our grammar school success and with renewed progress on the Oyster campaign, with this new monthly column I will be keeping you up to date about my work as your Member of Parliament.
One of the best parts of my job is spending Friday and the weekend visiting different parts of my constituency. I look in on schools and businesses, I meet residents, and of course I hold my monthly advice surgeries in both Sevenoaks and Swanley.
Recently, I spent time focusing on healthcare and the challenges that our growing and ageing population will bring to Sevenoaks. We need more GP places and I believe a new medical facility in Dunton Green could help.
This is not just about Dunton Green, though with the ongoing development at Ryewood this is a rapidly growing area. It’s a valuable opportunity to relieve the rising pressure on other surgeries, securing benefits for residents across Sevenoaks.
I also met West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group which oversees our GP services. As they made clear, it is important to create a long-term plan for GP provision in Sevenoaks – but we must also deal with the immediate situation. Several local surgeries are already full and without timely action the situation could worsen.
We also need to look again at Sevenoaks Hospital and make sure that we are making fullest use of all the services provided there. The NHS is much more than the big district hospitals like Pembury and Darent Valley; it works best where it’s local and loved.
Michael has welcomed the news that West Kingsdown Medical Centre will remain open after he intervened.
After a number of patients raised concerns with him, Michael pressed NHS England South East and Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG to find a solution that maintained a local GP service in West Kingsdown.
Following his intervention, NHS England South East have announced that new local GPs will take over the medical centre, ensuring continuity for patients and opportunities for improved care.
Michael said: “This is excellent news. West Kingsdown needs its own surgery and I am glad that the NHS and the local CCG have listened to the concerns of local people and their representatives. I will continue to monitor the issue to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible.”
Michael has announced his support for the campaign to secure a local medical facility on the Ryewood Meadows development in Dunton Green.
Michael said: “I am delighted to support this campaign. With a rising population, it is vital that NHS capacity increases to meet demand and this is a valuable opportunity to create a new facility.
I have written to West Kent CCG and look forward to meeting them shortly to encourage them to reach a decision as soon as possible.”
Responding to the current uncertainty about West Kingsdown Medical Centre, Michael said: “I am concerned about the situation facing the residents of West Kingsdown. I have received representations from a number of constituents, whom I have advised to participate in the current consultation process. I have also written to NHS England to request further information and clarification on the subject.”
Michael has expressed concerns about the closure of the Knole Centre in his Sevenoaks constituency.
The centre provides neuro-rehabilitation care for patients across West Kent. It is run by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), which announced its intention to close the service earlier this year. This has taken place early due to concerns about safe staffing over Christmas.
Michael said: “Clearly this is not an ideal situation. People will be understandably concerned about the closure of the service just before Christmas. Ultimately, patient safety has to come first. If the Knole Centre is unable to guarantee patient safety then it is right that it closes.
I am confident that significant planning has gone into managing the immediate situation but I will be seeking assurances that the new permanent services will provide a high quality of local, personal care.”