Kettering MP quizzes minister on extra cash for KGH

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone
Kettering MP Philip Hollobone

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone asked the Minister for Health in a Westminster debate today why KGH has repeatedly missed out on extra funding despite the hospital's critically overcrowded A&E.

Mr Hollobone highlighted the need for a new Urgent Care Hub at KGH, citing the limitations of an A&E department that was built to cope with 40,000 patients but received 91,200 patients in 2018.

Mr Hollobone addressed his questions to Chris Skidmore, Minister for Health, who said in his first debate in the role that the Government was allocating money to hospitals in need.

"The sustainability and transformation partnership (STPs) investment will modernise and transform the NHS' buildings and services across the country, including the urgent care centres and integrated care hubs that bring together primary and community services.

"Under this programme, capital funding has been allocated to 170 STPs since July 2017 and that now amounts to roughly £3.3bn," said the minister.

However, Mr Hollobone pointed out that "Northamptonshire is the only one of the 44 STPs in the country which has never received any capital funding in the four waves of capital funding," a fact that he finds "staggering, given the overwhelming support locally from the NHS for these proposals".

The debate comes on the same day a national campaign was launched calling for more NHS funding and used KGH's need for an Urgent Care Hub as an example.

The debate was held in Westminster Hall, which is where MPs can ask to hold general debates on motions of local or national issues.

A fellow county MP, Wellingborough's Peter Bone, was chairing the debate.

Mr Hollobone began the debate by highlighting the need for an Urgent Care Hub in the area.

He said: "The reason that we need this urgent care hub is because KGH is such a popular hospital that it simply cannot cope with the numbers coming into the A&E department at the moment.

"Everyone agrees, all the local NHS professionals in every NHS organisation in Northamptonshire, everyone agrees that what the hospital needs and the best solution to the challenges it faces is £49m to develop an urgent care hub on the KGH site."

KGH's A&E has been under strain for years - Mr Hollobone described how Dr Kevin Reynard from the NHS emergency care improvement programme visited the department in 2016 and said: "The current emergency department is the most cramped and limiting emergency department that I have ever come across in the UK, USA, Australia or India.

"I cannot see how the team, irrespective of crowding, can deliver a safe, modern emergency medicine service within the current footprint."

Multiple concerns have also been raised by the Care Quality Commission and the number of patients is expected to rise this year to 100,000, which Mr Hollobone said would be "well over 150 per cent above its capacity".

This strain on facilities is affecting care at the hospital and Mr Hollobone quoted several members of KGH staff, whom he also thanked for their dedication and hard work.

An end of life care nurse said: "When a patient is brought in to A&E dying or already passed away, there is no space where relatives can sit quietly to receive the news and grieve, we can’t even make them a cup of tea. They have to share a facility with the staff room."

The head of child safeguarding said: "Children have to wait in corridors alongside seriously unwell, drunk or mentally unwell adults. This causes a serious safeguarding concern as our staff are not always able to have line of sight on them."

The director of finance said: "If we stopped spending any money at all on necessary things, like replacing light bulbs or fixing equipment, then it would still take us nearly 15 years to save up enough money ourselves."

Despite this, KGH was unsuccessful in four rounds of capital funding allocation and its bid for £45.7m from the STP fund was unsuccessful despite being the highest clinical priority in Northamptonshire and the wider region.

Mr Hollobone said: "I simply don’t understand why KGH has been missed off the list." He said he wants the decision to be reviewed in an upcoming spending review.

"Can I ask the minister, with the clear patient safety concerns recognised at Kettering locally, regionally and nationally by NHS experts, what process did the Government follow in awarding the central NHS capital allocations to schemes in the recent weeks and why was Kettering not included?"

The Minister for Health said the 20 hospitals that have been chosen for £850m of additional funding for new upgrades had narrowly missed out on funding in previous rounds, but Mr Hollobone again highlighted the urgency of Kettering's situation and that KGH also narrowly missed out.

The MP also highlighted that KGH only needs £49m when there has been almost £3bn in STP funding.

Mr Hollobone said: "The Urgent Care Hub is, as far as I am concerned, the number one priority for local people in Kettering.

"I would like to invite the minister to visit and see the A&E department for himself.

"These problems are well known in the Department of Health and I simply don't understand why £49m, which in contrast to the size of the NHS budget really isn't very much, cannot be allocated to fund this badly needed Urgent Care Hub at KGH."