No planning Permission for New Hospital in Dover?


East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust says it is planning to build a new hospital on the site of Dover’s present Buckland Hospital and claims the new hospital will cost Ā£21,000,000. However, according to Dover District Council leader Paul Watkins the Trust has not yet applied for planning permission. What is going on? My attempts to find out raised more questions than they answered.

As well as being leader of Dover District Council, Paul Watkins is a member of the newly-formed Health and Wellbeing Committee, which will be run by, or has close links to, Dover District Council. To further complicate matters, there is also a South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group. Trying to find information on how the roles of these various organisations interlink or overlap, or do not, seems depressingly difficult.

According to the Department of Health, the reorganisation will liberate the NHS leading to increased democratic legitimacy in the NHS. Yet the Health and Wellbeing Committee appears to have no democratic element at all as members are appointed and are not voted into office. This seems to have led to a committee dominated by ruling Conservative group councillors with no representation from representatives of other political parties. More and more interesting.

Now according to the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group, their role is to:

1. Prevent people from dying prematurely.

2. Enhance quality of life for people with long-term conditions

3. Help people to recover following episodes of ill health or after injury

4. Ensure that people have a positive experience of care

5. Treat and care for people in a safe environment and protect them from avoidable harm

and in addition to these

6. Tackle health inequalities.

OK, so these are the aims of the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group. What, then, are the aims of the Health and Wellbeing Committee? Not a lot, it appears. In fact, it will be wound up in 2013 and become the Health and Wellbeing Board. Confused? You are not the only one.

So if I do not know the role of the Committee, and it seems to late to matter now, what will be the role of the Board? According to Parliament’s Publications Website the role of the Board will be:

“Health and wellbeing boards will be the forum for local authorities, the NHS, local Healthwatch(?), communities and wider partners, to share system leadership of both health and care services and population health.

The Act mandates the statutory minimum membership for health and wellbeing boards to include at least one local elected member, a CCG representative, the local directors of adult social services, public health and childrenā€™s services, and a representative from the local Healthwatch organisation. The NHS CB must also participate when invited to do so.

They will develop a joint understanding of local needs through Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs); a shared set of priorities and a strategy to address these in Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies (JHWSs). JSNAs and JHWSs will form the basis of NHS and local authoritiesā€™ own commissioning plans, across health, social care, public health and childrenā€™s services. The Government recently concluded a short public consultation on draft statutory guidance on JSNAs and JHWSs. A formal response to this consultation will be published by the end of the year.

Health and wellbeing boards will have duties to encourage integrated working between commissioners of services across health, social care, public health and childrenā€™s services. This complements duties on CCGs and the NHS CB to promote integration. They will consider how the collective resources of the NHS and local government can combine to improve outcomes, for example through Community Budgets.

By involving local councillors and representatives of people using services through local Healthwatch, and through wider engagement with local communities, health and wellbeing boards will strengthen local democratic legitimacy of health services and increase the influence of local people.”

So, to complicate matters further, a NHS Commissioning Board will have statutory responsibilities for theĀ South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group. There will also be a group overseeing NHS provision for the public and its name will be Healthwatch. It will:

“… be the new consumer champion for both health and social care, and Local Healthwatch will feed local peopleā€™s views and concerns about local health and social care services into the system.”

Have you heard of Healthwatch? I hadn’t. Yet it’s supposed to be the service users’ champion.

I took a look at the membership of the respective groups, committees and boards. On the board of theĀ South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group are: Dr. Joe Chaudhuri and Mr Chris MacKenny.

On the Health and Wellbeing Committee are: Dr Joe Chaudhuri and Chris Mackenny. In addition I found Cllr Paul Watkins and Karen Benbow.

Among the Council of Governors of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is Karen Benbow.

And as I had confirmed before, the Leader of Dover District Council is Cllr Paul Watkins.

With the same people appearing on the same committees, boards and groups, wouldn’t you think that information regarding the work of one would be relayed to members of the others? Yet Cllr Paul Watkins, as Leader of Dover District Council, announced to the press that the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust had not contacted the Council’s planning officers over the building of the new hospital. Surely he must have known what the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust was planning through his contacts in other groups, committees and boards he serves on. Couldn’t he have had a quiet word with his friends on the other boards, groups and committees rather than appearing to slap down theĀ East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust in the press and potentially cause more confusion for the public? Keeps his name in the public domain, I suppose.

Or maybe other members of boards, groups and committees are not friends but potential competitors?

When do roles overlap and when must they be kept separate and private? How can so few individuals have seats on so many boards and groups? I thought this reorganisation was supposed to make the NHS more accountable and democratic? Sorry, but it seems far more complicated, less democratic and open to accusations of corruption and cronyism. Not that I’m accusing present members of being corrupt but the potential is there.

And where in all this bureaucracy and red tape do ordinary people, the users of the services, come? Do people actually matter any more? And, most importantly, how is all this reorganisation supposed to keep our NHS as a public service and keep it from becoming a money-making machine for private companies?


Recycling Chaos Revisited

November 24th came and went and still no green waste collection from Dover District Council. I brought the bag back into the garden that night and put it out the next day (Tuesday). Guess what, still no collection. So, I emailed the council:

To: DDC Waste Collection.

According to our waste collection diary, Dover District Council was
starting a collection of green waste from Brenchley Avenue, Deal, on
Monday 10th November of this year. Having put out green waste on the
10th, and finding that it was not collected, we waited until the next
collection date according to our diary, which was supposed to be
yesterday, 24th November. As of this morning, Tuesday 25th November, our
green waste has still not been collected.

Is the service being discontinued? If it is then we shall take our green
waste to the Southwall Road Recycling Centre as we did before. It's just
that the green waste collection service was advertised and we wished to
show our support by taking advantage of the service.


and received this reply by return:

Dear Mr Hart

Thank you for your e-mail and I am sorry to hear that your green waste
was not collected on two occasions.  I will inform the contractor who
will be back to collect it.  Please leave the recycling on the kerbside.

Kind regards

This morning, before 7am, I put one of our two bags outside by the kerb; the other I left in the front garden. Didn’t want to tempt fate, after all. Just after 8.30 my wife noticed both empty bags in the front garden. Not only did the contractor empty the kerbside bag, they also reached into the garden and emptied the other bag, as well!

So, well done, Dover District Council.

The moral of this story must be: if something goes wrong or is not functioning as well as it might, get something done about it! Tell the authorities; after all, no one can rectify a problem if they don’t know there is a problem. And, above all, be polite. Being angry or aggressive only makes people upset and less likely to want to deal with you.

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Recycling Chaos

For years, Dover District Council was run by the Labour group. Relatively recently, Conservatives became the majority party. During the election campaign, the Conservatives issued survey forms asking for voters’ concerns. On top of the list was recycling. Now, recycling was a contentious issue throughout Labour’s terms of office. “Recycle!” people cried, “We want to recycle!”. What did the Lobour group do? They issued rather sad looking, plastic boxes that would not hold the remains of a gnat’s dinner party. Mostly, we took our recyclable waste to the local tip. The Conservatives took heed of the peoples’ demand for better recycling services and issued – bags. One was for cardboard and paper, the black box for tins and plastic, and another bag for green waste from gardens. We were told that our collection would change from a Thursday to a Monday, non-recyclable waste would be collected every Monday, paper, tins and plastic every two weeks and green waste collected on the weeks the other recyclables would not. It sounds confusing but seemed logical. I must say here that we were delighted; Kent County Council started a plastic collection at the local tip but then found it was ‘uneconomical’ so they stopped it again, since when we had to dump plastic with our non-recyclable waste. A terrible waste, as far as we were concerned.

The day of the great changeover, Monday November 3rd, arrived. Dutifully, we put out our black plastic bags of non-recyclables and our blue bags for paper and card together with the black box for tins and plastic. By that evening, our waste was still waiting. Tuesday came and finally our waste, both recyclable and non-recyclable was collected. Never mind, they got there in the end, I said to my wife. We have to expect these little upsets at the beginning.

Monday November 10th arrived and, again, we dutifully put out our non-recyclable waste and our green waste. This is marvellous, we said, now we don’t have to take green waste to the tip. That will save on petrol. Our non-recyclable waste was duly collected.

It is now Thursday November 13th. Our green waste is still waiting to be collected. We’ve moved it back into the garden now. Trouble is, we’ve collected more now so we will have to make a trip to the Kent County Council refuse tip. Maybe they’ll get it sorted out eventually. I won’t hold my breath. Labour, Conservatives … Does it really make a difference?

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