Candlelight vigil to launch public consultation about services at Deal Hospital

Community health campaigners alongside myself are to hold a candlelight vigil to launch a consultation about services at Deal Hospital. The vigil, is to be held on Friday 25th February at 6:15pm at the entrance to Deal Pier. I will be launching a public consultation at the vigil which will be open to residents in Deal, Walmer and nearby villages.

Deal health campaigners Marsha Horne and Anne Matthews are calling on Deal & Walmer residents to join the vigil to show the depth of community support for more services to be provided at the Hospital. They are objecting to blood testing services having been moved from the hospital to GP surgeries without any community consultation at a time when NHS England (Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal, Richards 2020) want to improve access to diagnostics, including phlebotomy services, not reduce them.  

I am backing the campaigners, alongside Deal councillors Trevor Bond and Tony Grist. I will be launching a full public consultation to all residents of Deal, Walmer and affected villages on blood tests the consultation will be open from 25 February 2022 until 2 April 2022. We will be meeting at various locations in Deal, Walmer and nearby villages during the consultation period to encourage residents to participate in the consultation.

The public consultation is the next step in the community campaign since the blood tests were removed from Deal Hospital at the end of October. There was widespread anger following a KCC Scrutiny Committee meeting held recently where the failings in the blood testing services raised by the community were dismissed by the local NHS team.

There’s a strong feeling in the community that healthcare changes that impact so many people should have been subject to consultation. Concerns that have been raised about issues with blood testing services are not being taken seriously. So I am carrying out a consultation with all residents of Deal, Walmer and affected local villages on their experience of blood testing services – and where they want to see them carried out. It’s so important that local healthcare delivers what is wanted and needed by residents.

I want to thank Marsha and Anne for their support for local residents who have been struggling to get the services they need, along with councillors Trevor Bond and Tony Grist who have also been actively backing the campaign. I hope as many people as possible come and join the vigil to support Deal Hospital, complete the public consultation and back the call to get more services being provided there.

Local health campaigner Marsha Horne said:

“I have had hundreds of local people respond to my Facebook posts about the closure of blood tests at the Deal Hospital. Many people are telling me that even before the closure, getting blood tests done at the GP surgeries has been an issue for them, friends or family. With the added pressure GP surgeries have been facing for the past few years, moving all blood testing back to the surgeries only added to the existing problems and means that the new GP service faces even further problems with timely provision. Yet despite voicing their concerns and problems with the service, people rightfully feel they are not being listened to. There are issues around getting blood tests when they are needed (without very lengthy waits for appointments), accessing booking and problems related to having to travel to other towns for blood tests. It’s simply not working. The NHS is meant to be about and for people. This is not the message that has been sent.”

Local health campaigner and former health professional Anne Matthews said:

“We want to see blood tests back at Deal Hospital. It takes great skill to be able to carry out blood tests, especially where there are hard-to-find veins. I have seen bruising I wouldn’t expect to see on a patient where the blood test was not done well enough. The medical team at the Deal Hospital were experts in doing blood tests. They should be back doing them again.”

Dear Town Cllr Tony Grist said:
“My petition on the reinstatement of blood tests at Deal Hospital has received thousands of signatures. I will be presenting it to the Chief Executive of the Hospital Trust. It is a disgrace that there was no community consultation about this change and I am pleased that this is now happening. The newly implemented service isn’t working and the Hospital Trust just aren’t listening.”

Deal District and County Cllr Trevor Bond said:

“I have been working with our MP on this issue since the change became known about last year. In spite of numerous meetings with health chiefs and conversations with GPs, the bottom line is that this new service isn’t working in the best interests of patients and residents. That’s got to change.”

Residents wanting to join in the Vigil should bring their own torch or phone to light up. More details about the Vigil and the Public Consultation can be found at  https://natalieelphicke.com/betterhealthcare/ and local Facebook pages.

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