Relocation of the GP-led out-of-hours service in west Kent

Published: 01 June 2018

Further to our recent communications regarding the relocation of the GP-led out-of-hours service, we wish to inform you that there will be a delay to the service relocation from Tonbridge Cottage Hospital to Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Pembury. The service relocation from Sevenoaks will continue as planned.
The GP-led out-of-hours service offers face-to-face appointments with a GP or nurse to people who need to access care urgently when their own practice is closed. The two out-of-hours GP-led bases were due to relocate from Sevenoaks and Tonbridge to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals from 1 June 2018.
We have been advised by Integrated Care 24 (IC24), provider of the GP-led out-of-hours service, due to a delay in the installation of IT equipment, the out-of-hours base at Tonbridge Cottage Hospital will now be relocated to Tunbridge Wells Hospital from 1 September 2018, once this has been resolved.
As previously communicated, the out-of-hours GP-led service will relocate from Sevenoaks Community Hospital from 1 June 2018, however, it will continue to operate from Tonbridge Cottage Hospital until 1 September 2018. Please note there will continue to be a home visiting service across west Kent to help housebound people.
The advice remains, if people become ill or injure themselves when their practice is closed, they should call NHS 111. If they need to be seen urgently, they will be given an appointment with a GP or nurse at either Tonbridge Cottage Hospital or Maidstone Hospital or, if required, be visited at home.
We apologise for any confusion that this may cause and are working hard to resolve the IT issues.
If you would like to discuss further, please email
Yours sincerely,
Adam Wickings
Chief Operating Officer – Delivery
NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group


Re: Relocation of the GP-led out-of-hours service in west Kent
I am writing to inform you of changes to the bases for GP-led out-of-hours services in west Kent.

Following engagement, which started in autumn 2014, with the public, clinicians, and the Kent Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), we have agreed that, from 1 June 2018, the out-of-hours GP-led service currently based at Sevenoaks Community Hospital and Tonbridge Cottage Hospital will be relocated to Maidstone Hospital and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals.

Initial timelines for changes to the out-of-hours GP-led services, which is provided by Integrated Care 24 (IC24) in west Kent, were discussed at public listening events held over summer 2017. People generally supported these changes, the development of urgent treatment centres as well as our plans to increase access to local GP services until 8pm Monday to Friday and also offer some weekend slots, with effect from October 2018.

At those meetings, initial timelines for changes to the out-of-hours services were suggested. As a first step, the base in Cranbrook, which offered appointments at weekends and on bank holidays, was relocated in December 2017. The relocation of the base at Sevenoaks has been brought forward as IC24 is facing challenges staffing the service.
As a result of these changes, from 1 June 2018, face-to-face, out-of-hours base appointments will no longer be offered in Sevenoaks or Tonbridge. There will continue to be an out-of-hours home visiting service across west Kent to support housebound patients.

By co-locating services next to the emergency department patients and staff will benefit from improved premises and facilities as well as better access to further tests and consultant expertise, if required.

The out-of-hours GP-led service is accessed by calling NHS 111. Patients who become ill or injure themselves when their practice is closed should call NHS 111, as they do now, and, if they need to be seen urgently, they will be given an appointment at either Maidstone Hospital or Tunbridge Wells Hospital or visited at home by a clinician.
In 2017, 18,048 out-of-hours GP-led appointments were offered in west Kent. Of those appointments, the out-of-hours service in Tonbridge saw just over 8,000 people and the Sevenoaks base, which operates an out-of-hours GP service for 10 hours per week, saw 707 people. We are working to communicate these changes to patients and the wider public.

The changes to the service are part of plans to improve urgent care in west Kent. The decision to base the GP-led out-of-hours service at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals is in line with national plans to establish new urgent treatment centres at these locations, which will see, diagnose and care for people attending with a wide range of conditions that can be treated by a GP or nurse.

The new urgent treatment centres will be fully opened by April 2019 and will provide a consistent 24-hour service, ensure greater integration of services with local emergency departments and use the staff available in the most effective way.

Located in the main hospitals, alongside the emergency departments, the urgent treatment centres will also help to direct patients to the right care. For example, patients who attend the emergency department when their care needs can be met by a GP or nurse will be seen by those healthcare professionals and allow the emergency teams to focus on those who need the specialist care that they provide.

If you have an enquiry or would like to discuss further, please email or write to the postal address above by Friday 18 May 2018.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Ayres
Managing Director
Medway, North and West Kent CCG’s