The planned of reorganisation emergency and specialist services at the east Kent hospitals’ three major sites is facing a major delay.
A public consultation on two potential options should have begun this year, but will now not take place until 2020.
Industry newspaper Health Service Journal (HSJ) is also reporting that the expected costs for one option which involves a “consolidated accident and emergency, consultant-led maternity and specialist services at a new build hospital in Canterbury” have climbed from £250m to more than £300m.
Developer Quinn Estates has played a central part in the new hospital proposals by suggesting it could build the shell of a new hospital next to the present site in Ethelbert Road with the cost offset by a housing development elsewhere in Canterbury.
A second option involves retaining accident and emergency at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and at the QEQM in Margate, with the latter also keeping its maternity units.
At a meeting next week, a joint committee of the clinical commissioning groups in east Kent was due to approve the next stages in the process which involve a thorough assessment of the two options before moving ahead to the public consultation.
But the HSJ reports: “According to the proposed timetable, a pre-consultation business case covering all the proposed options will be developed during 2019. It is not expected to be submitted to NHS England before December.
“Funding for each of the options would also need to be secured, most likely through an application to the next capital funding round in the autumn.
“NHSE will have to approve the business case before it can go to public consultation – possibly in the early part of next year.”