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You are here  : Home Press 2007 Press Releases 2007 Health Minister returns to her roots
Health Minister returns to her roots
Written by Communications Team   

Recently appointed as a Minister at the Department of Health, Ann Keen MP, was enthusiastic to visit her old stomping ground at Ashford Hospital recently.      On Tuesday 31st July Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust welcomed the former nurse on one of her first visits as a minister.


Welcoming Ann to the Trust, Porter and Joint Chair of the Staff Side Consultative Committee said: “We were very pleased to welcome Ann back to Ashford Hospital and to St. Peter’s Hospital.   She worked hard for the hospital as a nurse and we’re looking forward to working closely with her and the other new ministers at the Department of Health as Professor Lord Darzireviews the wider NHS to make sure it is fit for the next decade.”



Ann’s three hour visit to the Trust included tours of:


·          the angiography suite at St. Peter’s where patients from across Surrey can receive coronary angioplasty without the need to travel to London or elsewhere;


·          the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Peter’s which looks after over 500 premature and very sick babies from acrossSurrey and elsewhere;


·          the NHS Walk-in centre at Ashford which sees around 80 – 90 patients per day; and


·          the ground breaking Rapid Access Centre at Ashford which provides GPs with speedy access to assessment and treatment in one place and prevents unnecessary admissions.


·          In addition to the four areas visited Ann spent an hour with a cross section of staff from both hospitals and there was a vigorous and robust exchange of views on a variety of subjects.


Speaking after the visit Ann said: “I was delighted to return to Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals and to see the huge transformation that has taken place since my days on the wards.   The cutting edge services and buildings are new, though the same commitment to delivering the best possible care to patients remains.”


Ann Keen continued: "I particularly valued the opportunity to listen to staff and participate in a constructive discussion with them."

In the Angiography Suite which is run and managed in partnership with the InHealth Group, Ann was shown around by Clinical Nurse Manager Jackie Churchman and Medicine Business Centre Manager Catherine Townsend.   In 2006/07 the unit implanted 196 cardiac pacemakers, 19 cardioverter defibrillators and did 932 contrast radiology of heart procedures.  Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust has built up expertise in emergency medicine and surgery as part of a strategic drive for excellence in these areas.  In Cardiology the Trust is at the leading edge in the development of many treatments and it is the only accredited Surrey NHS Trust to carry out primary angioplasty - surgery to open up arteries in the heart that have been blocked or narrowed by fatty deposits.


In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Ann was shown around the intensive care nurseries by Sister Mandy Woodford and Consultant Paediatrician Dr Tosin Otunia.   The NICU at St. Peter’s Hospitals is the only level 3 (highest) Unit in Surreyand surrounding areas.  It takes 90% of the babies who are born prematurely and/or are ill from across Surrey.  The £1.2m expanded NICU was opened in July 2005.   The Unit has seven intensive care, four high dependency and 12 special care cots.    The NICU at St. Peter’s works in a Neonatal Network for Surrey and Sussex with East Surrey HospitalFrimley ParkHospital and Royal Surrey County Hospital, and all Sussex Neonatal Units.  The Unit also hosts a Neonatal Transport Team.  In 2006 the unit cared for 544 premature and sick babies, an increase of 39% on the previous year.


Returning to her old stomping ground at Ashford Hospital Ann was introduced to nurses Phylis King and Julie Jones and by chance met nurse Patricia Miles who worked with Ann at Ashford and was just coming on duty in the NHS Walk Centre which opened just over a year ago.   The Walk-in Centre, which sees around 80-90 patients per day, was established as part of the changes to services between Ashford and St. Peter’s hospitals.



Finally, Ann was shown round the innovative Rapid Access Centre (RAC) by Consultant Dr Bhaskar Mandal and introduced to Medical Support Worker Rebecca Clarke, Physiotherapist Sacha Higham, RAC Staff Doctor Dr Peter Enware and Consultant Physician Dr Ishaku Pam.   The Rapid Access Centre provides a speedy one stop medical, diagnostic and therapeutic assessment for older people.   Over the last year it has been used extensively by an increasing number of GPs to get a quick hospital assessment of their patients without the need for an admission.   During the first 12 months of the service it saw 900 patients of which 70% were discharged with a treatment plan and medication.   Over 90% of the patients referred to the Rapid Access Centre rated the service as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.


Commenting on the visit, Director of Nursing and Operations at Ashford and St. Peter’s, Michaela Morris, said: “We were proud to be able to show off some of our specialist and innovative services.   Neither Ashford nor St. Peter’s Hospitals are the same as they were when Mrs Keen nursed here but some of the faces are the same and old friendships were renewed.   Both hospitals and the health service as a whole have developed and changed to adapt to new technology, new treatments and changes in society.    To ensure that we provide patients with the best possible care within the resources we have we need to continue to adapt to the changing times.”