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Improving healthcare in Thanet

The planned Bethesda Medical Practice development

Since NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group was formed in 2013, we have been talking to you, our local residents, about what you want from health services in the future.

We have held public meetings, regularly talk to representatives from GP practices’ patient participation groups, and, since June 2017, we have been holding regular “Esther Cafes” with people who use NHS and care services, to hear what you think is important and what changes you want to see.

You Said, We Did

The main things you told us you want are:

  • a one stop shop, where you can go to access the vast majority of the health and social care services you need in one place
  • joined-up teams to look after people with more complicated needs, so you get care for all your needs and you only have to tell your story once
  • more effort on keeping people healthy – prevention is better than cure.

Based on this, we are working really hard to make sure we deliver the “community hubs” you asked for, where you can be treated by health and social care professionals working individually and together, and where you can improve your own health. 

A state-of-the-art-centre

We are delighted to have been allocated £6.5million NHS funding for an extension to Bethesda Medical Centre to kick off this new approach in Margate.

At the Bethesda site, we propose to create a state of the art health facility which will allow everyone to get all the medical and nursing services they expect in much more modern and accessible space, with:

  • enough consulting rooms for GPs and nurses to provide care for up to 32,000 patients
  • clinics for physiotherapy, audiology, ophthalmology, ultrasound and minor surgery for patients from Margate and beyond
  • space for integrated teams of GPs, nurses, community and mental health professionals and voluntary organisations to work together, coordinating treatment and support for individual patients with complicated health problems
  • education and training space for medical staff during the week, which can be used by patient groups in the evenings and at weekends
  • a café, community kitchen, gym for physio, outside gym area, allotment, and more, to help you lead a healthier lifestyle
  • a bigger pharmacy.

For patients with complicated health problems, who need to use health and care services more than other people, this would mean:

  • teams having tailor-made plans to help you stay well and get the right care quickly when you need it 
  • you having to tell your story and be assessed only once – not multiple times – thanks to better communication between professionals and more joined-up working
  • more opportunities for you to find out how to manage your health problems, both from health professionals and from other patients – helping you to live well with long-term illness.

The proposed development would put Margate at the forefront of a new type of healthcare, which aims to provide far more care and support in people’s own communities, without the need for people to go to an acute (main) hospital.

Bringing staff together under one roof would improve health and care services for patients and make Margate a real draw for medical professionals and care staff, reducing recruitment problems we sometimes experience.

And it would give people more chances to take care of their own health.

It’s not just doctors, nurses and medicine that make you well.  Exercise, diet, steering clear of things that damage health (such as smoking, drinking to excess and drugs) and less tangible things, such as friendship, helping other people, and learning new things,  can add life to your days and days to your life. 

Our plans for the district

The proposed development at Bethesda is part of NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) long term strategy for improving local people’s care.

We are also aiming to secure a £10million health and care centre for Westwood Cross, to be the “community hub” for Broadstairs and parts of Ramsgate.

This could potentially be the base for up to six different GP practices, as well as having the sort of facilities planned for Bethesda.

This would give us two fantastic health and care buildings in Thanet which are open not just to the patients of the GP practices based there, but also anyone in Thanet who wants to use them.

We anticipate more room becoming available at Montefiore for East Cliff practice to further expand the services it offers and potentially offer a base for joined-up working for Ramsgate.

Other practices in Westgate, Birchington, Minster and so on will continue as now, in their existing buildings, and their patients will be able to make use of many of the extra services – such as minor operations and extra clinics – provided at the new “community hubs”.

We will ensure that people who would struggle if their practice moved base will still be able to access medical care. We are in discussions about arrangements for public or community transport.

We are also extending GP opening hours, so if you need an urgent appointment you can see a GP, nurse, or paramedic between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, with some weekend slots too.

And we have set up new teams to look after frail or vulnerable people at risk of a hospital stay. In many cases, they can be treated in their own homes, which they prefer and which is better for them and a better use of NHS resources.