A new NHS treatment centre in Kent was officially opened today (Thursday 14 June) by health minister Andy Burnham.
Mr Burnham said: "This is good news for NHS patients in Kent and means that they can benefit from additional high-quality services, with the assurance that treatment will remain free at the point of use.
"The extra facilities that this agreement will provide for NHS patients brings us another step closer to delivering our commitment that no-one will wait more than 18 weeks for an operation by 2008."
The Mid Kent NHS Treatment Centre is situated within Maidstone Hospital, and is being run under a five-year contract by Partnership Health Group (PHG) on behalf of the NHS. PHG works in conjunction with the West Kent Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospitals Trust.
The centre houses a brand new dedicated surgical facility, and a purpose-built endoscopy unit, and is already carrying out more than 100 surgical and endoscopy procedures each week. In addition, it provides up to 160 chemotherapy treatments to Kent patients each week. The centre will provide more than 11,000 episodes of patient care each year.
The centre's manager, Jane Higgins, said: "This new unit has enabled us greatly to improve the quality of service to patients – they can be treated in pleasant relaxed surroundings, with the best equipment and facilities available, while in the care of dedicated professionals".
The centre is a dedicated same-day procedure centre with facilities including a preassessment department, reception, and chemotherapy and endoscopy suites. There are two fully-equipped operating theatres and 20 same-day surgery beds, with an additional two endoscopy procedure suites.