Calais Hospital, ran in partnership with health chiefs in south Kent, is able to offer 'fast care to any NHS patient' - as hospitals in England reach crisis point

Patients urged to get treatment in Calais in NHS crisis

Thousands of patients are being urged to get on ferries and the Eurostar to visit a hospital in Calais as the worst winter ever tightens its grip on the NHS.

Calais Hospital, ran in partnership with health chiefs in south Kent, has launched a campaign encouraging patients to make the trip across the Channel for ‘fast care’

It comes just a week after Prime Minister Theresa May apologised for NHS England’s controversial decision to cancel 55,000 non-urgent operations.

Recent figures have shown that hospitals in England have reached ‘crisis point’, with A&E waiting times and ambulance delays going through the roof.

French bosses are advertising the unit in the city as being just ‘five minutes away’ from the Eurotunnel exit and the main port in an attempt to tempt patients to seek GP referrals for operations across the Channel.

English signs are displayed throughout the premises and every doctor and nurse is fluent in English.

South Kent Coast CCG signed the deal with the hospital, which in French is called the Centre Hospitalier de Calais, in January 2016.

The city has become known for its migrant camps in recent years. The NHS-run service is less than 1.2 miles (2km) away from the old ‘Calais Jungle’, where refugees used to clamber onto trucks to try and make it to Britain.

However, critics have blasted the advert and said it is indicative of Mrs May’s failure to tackle the chronic under-funding of the health service.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘If shipping patients off to France is Theresa May’s idea of the NHS being “better prepared” for winter than ever before, then she really has lost control.

‘Patients deserve more than being forced to cross the Channel for their care.’

Calais Hospital, ran in partnership with health chiefs in south Kent, is able to offer 'fast care to any NHS patient' - as hospitals in England reach crisis point

Calais Hospital, ran in partnership with health chiefs in south Kent, is able to offer ‘fast care to any NHS patient’ – as hospitals in England reach crisis point

French bosses are advertising the unit in the city as being just 'five minutes away' from the Eurotunnel exit and the main port

French bosses are advertising the unit in the city as being just ‘five minutes away’ from the Eurotunnel exit and the main port

The hospital is less than 1.2 miles (2km) from the old migrant camps, which were described as the 'Calais Jungle' before they were shut down in October 2016

The hospital is less than 1.2 miles (2km) from the old migrant camps, which were described as the ‘Calais Jungle’ before they were shut down in October 2016

James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘Whilst it’s encouraging that Brits could go to Calais to get quality healthcare, it it also a sorry indictment on the NHS that people have to leave the country for care.

‘The same people who argue we copy Europe in many ways are also horrified of attacking the NHS, but the continent shows consistently better healthcare under a different system.

‘Taxpayers in Dover and beyond deserve a grown-up conversation about how we organise and run healthcare in the UK.’

The plans were first revealed in 2016 by the NHS South Kent Coast CCG, which covers a population of 202,000 in the Folkestone and Dover area.

It was hoped that the controversial move would slash escalating waiting times for routine operations, such as hip replacements, in the Kent area.

However, frustrated bosses have taken to advertising the French facility once again as barely any are making the journey. It issued a new press release on Wednesday.

Calais Hospital, which offers accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, is described as being a ‘modern hospital’ – furnished with 500 beds.

Patients making the trip across the English Channel can expect to have their surgery within four weeks – which they claim is quicker than on home soil.

South Kent Coast CCG signed the deal with the hospital, which in French is called the Centre Hospitalier de Calais, in January 2016

South Kent Coast CCG signed the deal with the hospital, which in French is called the Centre Hospitalier de Calais, in January 2016

There is no waiting list for non-urgent procedures at the NHS-ran hospital in Calais. Patients can expect to wait for at least 18 weeks in England.

Families wanting to stay close to their relative in hospital would have to fork out €40 (£35) per night, which bosses say is a ‘very competitive’ rate.

They would also be asked to dish out a further €8 (£7.10) for ‘staying over’ and €8 (£7.10) for any extra meal.

The rooms – which come with TVs and internet, that are offered to friends and family of patients are all full of single beds.

Chiefs claim that an extra bed can be provided to those that need a ‘family helper’. Car parking is also free – unlike most NHS hospitals.

All treatment costs and meals for the patients are fronted by the NHS as part of the deal to ease pressure on the stretched Kent services. However, patients pay their own travel costs.

A spokesperson claimed that NHS bosses in the area are acting ‘unethical’ when they hear patients have booked in for an operation in France.

They suggested patients willing to travel are being offered the opportunity to ‘queue jump’ so they have a much shorter wait for the surgery in England.

FIRST NHS PATIENT CROSSES THE CHANNEL FOR SURGERY

A civil servant became the first NHS patient to travel to France for routine surgery as part of a contract designed to cut waiting times two years ago.

Timothy Brierley made the 44-mile trip from his home in Lyminge, Kent, to a Calais hospital to have his gall bladder removed in April 2016.

He opted to travel abroad to reduce his waiting time from 10 months to just weeks as part of an agreement between South Kent Coast CCG and the Centre Hospitalier de Calais.

Timothy Brierley made the 44-mile trip from his home in Lyminge, Kent, to a Calais hospital to have his gall bladder removed in April 2016

Timothy Brierley made the 44-mile trip from his home in Lyminge, Kent, to a Calais hospital to have his gall bladder removed in April 2016

It won the right to provide services for NHS patients including orthopaedics, gynaecology, ear nose and throat and cataract surgery – but patients have to pay for their own travel costs.

The hospital has trained dozens of nurses and support staff in English, and an NHS sign is now visible at its entrance.

Mr Brierley, 54, told The Guardian at the time it was no less convenient than going to his local hospital – and worth it for the reduction in waiting times.

Patients making the trip across the English Channel can expect to have their surgery within four weeks - which they claim is quicker than on home soil

Patients making the trip across the English Channel can expect to have their surgery within four weeks – which they claim is quicker than on home soil

Calais Hospital, which offers accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, is described as being a 'modern hospital' - furnished with 500 beds

Calais Hospital, which offers accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, is described as being a ‘modern hospital’ – furnished with 500 beds

HOW LONG ARE THE WAITS FOR SURGERY?

The number of patients waiting too long for routine operations is at its highest level in almost a decade, NHS figures revealed in October.

More than 400,000 patients had waited at least 18 weeks for procedures including hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery.

This is the highest number since September 2008 and prompting experts to warn that hospitals were going backwards.

Under the NHS Constitution, its rulebook, patients have a right to have an operation or procedure within 18 weeks of being referred by their consultant.

But figures for August show that 1 in 10 patients were waiting longer – only 89.4 per cent were treated within this 18 week target.

Earlier this year the head of the NHS Simon Stevens warned that waiting times would go up to enable the health service to focus its attention on cancer care and GP services.

‘Leading surgeons accused him of ‘waving the white flag’ and said the health service would return to the days of ‘unacceptably long waits.’

NHS England refused to comment when asked. South Kent Coast CCG has been approached by MailOnline for a response.

The new advert comes just a week after NHS England announced all non-urgent operations would be cancelled until February.

The controversial move was slammed by experts, but was considered as the only way to cope with the mounting pressure placed on the health service.

The NHS crisis is now the forefront of a political row over funding, with furious medics arguing this entire situation was avoidable with extra money.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt have been forced to publically apologise amid the crisis.

Bosses have also warned the health service is in the midst of a ‘watershed moment’ because it cannot currently deliver required levels of care.

A&E staff have spoke of their grave concerns of the ‘battlefield’ conditions they have faced this winter, revealing they are ‘ashamed’ over the ‘substandard care’.

Damning figures released yesterday highlighted how poor the NHS is performing this winter, with A&E waiting times hitting their highest on record.

Just 85.1 per cent of patients were seen within the four-hour time target set by Government – equaling last January’s record low.

And more than 300,000 patients were forced to wait for at least four hours in all A&E units – the highest amount since figures began in 2010.

THE ‘CALAIS JUNGLE’: 10,000 MIGRANTS USED TO LIVE AT THE MAKESHIFT CAMP

Around 10,000 migrants used to live at the makeshift camp in France until the squalid camp was pulled down by French officials in 2016.

The port city camp was popular with migrants who hoped to try to clamber onto trucks in the desperate hope that they would make it to Britain.

Since the camp was shut down, there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of violent crime in the area as a number of migrants have applied for asylum in France or dispersed into other parts of the EU.

Yet in August last year, it was revealed that migrants had made 30,000 attempts to reach Britain from Calais despite costly security measures.

The French interior ministry logged 17,867 efforts to break into the fortified zone around the port and Channel Tunnel.

Asylum seekers also tried 12,349 times to stow away on UK-bound lorries.

The figures came nearly a year after the closure of the notorious Jungle migrant camp in Calais – raising fears of another shantytown springing up there.

New data from NHS England shows the health service is operating at a poorer level than at the same point in 2016, which was branded a ‘humanitarian crisis’

PM WARNED PATIENTS ARE ‘DYING PREMATURELY’ IN CORRIDORS, LEAKED LETTER REVEALS

Furious A&E chiefs have warned Prime Minister Theresa May that patients are ‘dying prematurely’ in hospital corridors.

A leaked letter, written by the bosses of 60 casualty units, reveals there are ‘serious concerns’ about patient safety amid the NHS‘ worst winter on record.

Chiefs warned just 45 per cent of patients had been seen within four hours in some A&E units during last week – well below recommended levels.

The strongly-worded letter also revealed how levels were ‘never higher than 75 per cent’. The Government time-target is 95 per cent.

Furious A&E chiefs have warned Prime Minister Theresa May that patients are 'dying prematurely' in hospital corridors

Furious A&E chiefs have warned Prime Minister Theresa May that patients are ‘dying prematurely’ in hospital corridors

Their revelation, seen by HSJ, mirrors figures released by NHS England today which showed waiting times have reached their worst on record.

Fears have been raised that the problems will only worsen, amid the rapid spread of flu which some expect to be the worst outbreak in 50 years.

Names on the scathing letter, dated yesterday, included some of the bosses of the biggest and busiest casualty units across the country.

They included: Cambridge University Hospitals, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, Kings College Hospital and Central Manchester University Hospitals.

They warned the NHS is ‘chronically underfunded’ and not prepared for the winter onslaught, now considered to be the worst recorded in recent history.

The data shows that over 5,000 extra beds were brought into service to cope with demand

The data shows that over 5,000 extra beds were brought into service to cope with demand

JEREMY CORBYN LEADS ATTACKS ON THE GOVERNMENT OVER NHS CRISIS… WHILE IN MEXICO

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has attacked the Government for its handling of the crisis, warning Mrs May is ignoring the desperate calls of nurses for more money

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has attacked the Government for its handling of the crisis, warning Mrs May is ignoring the desperate calls of nurses for more money

His Twitter account has been churning out criticism of the Government over the NHS crisis.

But as ministers have been active and Theresa May went to hear the problems of hospital staff yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn was relaxing in sunny Mexico.

The Labour leader has attacked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for going missing, while he has been more than 5,000 miles away over Christmas and New Year.

Yesterday he issued a message saying: ‘It is not good enough for Theresa May to say NHS problems are ‘frustrating’ and ‘disappointing’ when the Tory Government has caused this crisis.

Nurses, doctors and patients are pleading with her to properly fund our health service, but she is ignoring them.’

The Prime Minister visited Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey last week and apologised for the cancelled operations.

Ambulance delays have also risen to record proportions, with more than 5,000 patients left stuck in the back of the vehicles waiting to be transferred to A&E.

While bed occupancy levels have hit their worst point yet this winter, with 24 trusts declaring they had no free beds at some point last week, the figures showed.

The ‘disappointing’ figures have been escalating rapidly in the past few week, and are only expected to get worse by the end of the month.

Furious A&E chiefs wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week to inform her that patients are ‘dying prematurely’ in hospital corridors.

A leaked letter, written by the bosses of 60 casualty units, revealed there are ‘serious concerns’ about patient safety amid the ongoing crisis.

Chiefs warned just 45 per cent of patients had been seen within four hours in some A&E units during last week – well below recommended levels.

Names on the scathing letter, dated yesterday, included some of the bosses of the biggest and busiest casualty units across the country.

The number of ambulance patients having to wait over 30 minutes to be taken into hospital has risen by over 6,000 a week since November

The number of ambulance patients having to wait over 30 minutes to be taken into hospital has risen by over 6,000 a week since November

THE ‘HUMANITARIAN CRISIS’ OF 2016 ON THE NHS

The NHS endured its worst ever winter crisis, with waiting times, cancelled operations and bed-blocking running at, or near, record levels last year.

Official figures illustrated the scale of the scale of the turmoil to engulf the health service in the face of unprecedented pressures.

Bed-blocking due to a lack of social care places was at a record high with more than 2,500 health patients prevented from leaving hospitals each day – specifically because there is nowhere for them to go.

Statistics from NHS England report also revealed nearly 200,000 patients waited at least four hours in A&E between the winter months of December to February – a five-fold increase from just 41,000 five years previously.

Supporters of the NHS reacted in fury after the Red Cross claimed hospitals were facing a 'humanitarian crisis' after its worst week in 15 years

Supporters of the NHS reacted in fury after the Red Cross claimed hospitals were facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ after its worst week in 15 years

Extreme waiting times also reached record levels, as nearly 2,000 patients were forced to wait at least 12 hours in A&E over the same period.

And cancer referral rates in February were at their second lowest level on record.

Supporters of the NHS reacted in fury after the Red Cross claimed hospitals were facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ after its worst winter in 15 years.

The charity said it stepped in to help the NHS in England to deal with the increased demand during the winter, but have been hit with criticism accusing them of overstating the issue.

It comes as it emerged that two patients died on trolleys in Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s accident and emergency department in January.

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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