After all the marches, public meetings, delivering a petition to Downing Street and meetings with Jeremy Hunt, the NHS is finally considering a new hospital at Canterbury. This is a big success for the campaign. It’s an enormous credit to the hard work of CHEK campaigners.
Ever since I was elected I have said that the NHS should consider a vision for healthcare in East Kent with an excellent specialist hospital in the centre. I have repeated this in every meeting I’ve had with NHS leaders and Ministers, and in a debate I called in Parliament. This option is now on the table. That wasn’t the case a few months ago. Part of the reason for this is that developers are now competing to build the shell of the hospital, which makes it much more affordable for the NHS.
There’s still a long way to go before the final decision is made. Whatever the outcome, patients must come first. The NHS must do the right thing for patients across Kent.
This consultation is part of a broader plan to transform healthcare in East Kent and the county as a whole. It’s clear, with patients waiting for hours in A&E at the moment, that what we have right now isn’t working. Healthcare has to change. The model for the future is specialist hospitals that are centres of excellence, and more services closer to home. I want Kent to be at the forefront of this vision for healthcare. A fantastic new hospital, accompanied by a medical school – for which a bid was submitted yesterday – could make that ambition a reality.