The government is to pump more than £6 million into the accident and emergency departments at the beleaguered east Kent hospitals ahead of their busy winter period.
Its decision to award the rescue package means the hospitals trust can create more room for patients and new observation wards at the William Harvey in Ashford and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in Margate.
The announcement comes just days after health watchdogs ruled that the trust had failed to improve its overall performance following its latest inspection.
They found the trust persistently wanting in key areas including waiting times for surgery and emergency admissions.
The trust says the £6.42 million package will be invested in its “winter ready” programme which aims to “improve the experience for patients [and] give staff a better environment to work in”.
Chief Executive Susan Acott said: “This funding is excellent news for east Kent patients.
“It means people who need an extended period of observation will no longer have to stay in the emergency departments during this time, so we will be able to provide the care they need in a much more suitable environment while at the same time releasing much-needed physical space in our emergency departments.
“Alongside the many other measures we are taking to prepare for winter, which include investing in more staff, this puts us in a much stronger position to provide the standards of care we want for patients during busy winter periods.
“It’s a great boost for our staff who work hard to give the best possible care they can in a service that’s often under a great deal of pressure.”
The funding from the Department comes as the trust works to improve services ahead of the winter when additional demand for hospital services is expected.
It is already investing £13.5 million to create more beds and extend ambulatory care so that more people can be seen, treated and discharged on the same day without needing to stay overnight.
A recruitment drive to employ medical staff from overseas is also underway and there will be efforts to avoid the need to cancel operations.