Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is launching “ambitious” proposals to develop specialist cardiac services at Maidstone Hospital and Pembury Hospital in Tunbridge Wells by the end of this year.
Under its plans, health chiefs are seeking to move inpatient cardiology services to one hospital site. Currently both hospitals have Cardiac Catheterisation Suites, Coronary Care Units and general Cardiology wards.
Kent NHS leaders said Maidstone is the preferred option on a “clinical” level.
People living in the Crowborough area predominately receive most of their acute hospital care (including cardiology) at Pembury Hospital.
The proposals come as hundreds of patients face delays for their treatment, along with a shortage of trained consultants.
Improvements made would include providing 24/7 on-call care and providing more beds and labs for routine and emergency procedures.
Speaking at a meeting of Kent’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Dr Laurence Nunn, Consultant Cardiologist at Maidstone Hospital, said:
Patients are already losing out and they will continue to lose out if we do not go ahead with this.Dr Laurence Nunn
Cardiology focuses on assessing and treating patients with diseases and defects of the heart and blood vessels, which can lead to blackout or death.
Amid Covid, there has been a need to hire more specialist staff to provide 24/7 care to look after a growing number of cardiology patients on the two sites. The proposals aim to make the best use of specialist staff and equipment.
During the meeting on 21st July, Dr Nunn added:
Some of these services are split across the two sites, some are duplicated.
At the moment we have a lot of patients travelling between the two sites for necessary procedures, which does cause delays to their treatment.
We are falling behind national guidelines in the time it takes to get them done and in some cases, treatment of heart attacks.
Being able to centralise cardiology to one site allows us to pool all our resources to deliver the best care to our patients.Dr Laurence Nunn
Kent district and borough councillors urged to the NHS to consider the interests of residents before any final decision is made.
Gravesham member Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox (Lab), Cabinet Member for Community, said:
It makes sense clinically, but there are wider accessibility issues and the community impact does not seem to be taken into account.Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust are inviting patients, the public and staff to complete the survey: Cardiology Questionnaire.