News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Friday, June 15, 2007

Royal Victoria Hospital to be sold

East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust has confirmed that the Royal Victoria Hospital's main building will be sold for housing redevelopment. The trust insists that there will be no reduction in service, with the remaining facilities including the walk-in centre and the Derry Unit to be incorporated into other buildings, including the newer wing of the hospital on the same site.

The announcement comes as no surprise. Of course, I can see the case being made that the old buildings are not appropriate to modern medicine, and most of the building is now used for offices rather than medical care. I don't know where they plan to move the office workers though - I can't believe that the NHS would be planning to cut administration!

I'm not sure how transparent the statement that we will retain the existing services really is either. I know of positions which are being scrapped, as the medical staff have moved to other positions and the vacancies have been abolished instead of being readvertised. In reality, that's a cut, no matter what spin the NHS may have.

I understand that KCC has the power to examine the decision. It's not clear whether that opportunity remains, or whether it has now passed. I will be investigating and lobbying to ensure that the relevant councillors ask the correct questions to keep the health bureaucrats in check. It isn't yet clear whether alternate office space will be found in Folkestone, or where these jobs will be moved to if not, so there are plenty of issues which need sorting.

Fundamentally, the closure would be the final nail in the coffin for any hope that Folkestone may regain full health services one day. Neighbouring Dover is also losing the Buckland hospital. It seems amazing that two districts with a combined population of 250,000, the world's busiest passenger port and the world's longest under sea tunnel will soon have no hospital. What a relief New Labour saved the NHS in 1997!

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