Sunday, 30 December 2007

FUTURE HEALTH CARE WEST KENT: More Questions Than Answers?

Kent Green Party has found a wide variety of questions being raised by the West Kent Primary Care Trust’s new consultation, Getting Fit for the Future (1). Unfortunately, it is not yet clear how many critical health questions this consultation raises are going to be answered.

Steve Dawe gives some examples of questions Kent Green Party is putting to the West Kent PCT(2):

“West Kent PCT wants to reduce smoking and work with partners to improve health. Will it be calling on KCC to sell its £14m investment in tobacco shares?

What does the PCT mean by 'strengthening commissioning'? What safeguards will the PCT have when it places hundreds of millions of taxpayers pounds into private hands?

If maternity care is a priority for the PCT, why is it happy for the downgrading of maternity services at Maidstone Hospital with the resultant travelling to Pembury, Ashford or Medway?

If the PCT is wanting to improve access to A&E, why is it backing the downgrading of Maidstone A&E?

If the PCT really wants to tackle obesity why is it not targeting KCC's appalling record on cycling and pedestrianisation(3). KCC is committed to road building and travel by car - key causes of obesity and does not support the goal of traffic reduction in urban areas.

Why is the PCT not considering deaths from traffic pollution. An EU study attributed 40,000 deaths per annum in the UK to PM10s, the major source of which is traffic. This equates to over 500 deaths in West Kent each year. It should be working with KCC on reducing traffic in West Kent.

Kent Green Party supports the concept of polyclinics, however they should support smaller populations than the proposed 50,000 - a figure of 20,000 would ensure that smaller communities would be able to access them and ensure that extra trafiic is not put on roads. Also, polyclinics should be in addition to and not replace GP surgeries.

“The PCT's vision for civic engagement is lacklustre. It appears that the PCT is proposing to engage with the public, but the plan does not suggest that the PCT will take any notice of the public! There is an accountability problem in the planning of health services which this consultation does not address.”

FURTHER INFORMATION: Steve Dawe on 01732 355185 or 0845 257 4236 or mobile 07747 036192. Contact address as above.

West Kent Primary Care Trust – Getting Fit for the Future: a summary of the West Kent PCT Strategic Commissioning Plan 2007-2012. Avialable at
Other questions put to West Kent PCT include: The PCT wants integrated planning and delivery. How can this be achieved against the choice and plurality agendas? These are contrary to integrated delivery. A new hospital for South West Kent is absolutely essential, but how can the health economy balance its books with the burden of PFI? Planned care: should the PCT be considering divesting itself of any responsibility for commissioning, e.g. radiotherapy. Will this really enhance services and what will the effect on accountability be? If GP practices work in groups to decide how to spend money on health care services, surely this will create inequities across West Kent?Kent County Council provides just one day of cycle training for primary school children compared to the national scheme, used for example by Medway, which provides 5 days. KCC also does not have a target for the number of homezones – strongly pedestrainised residential streets – it shoul

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