Tonbridge Cottage Hospital

Here is the Chairman’s Annual Report for the year 1/7/2019 to 30/6/2020.

One of the main aims of the League of Friends is to raise money for Tonbridge Cottage Hospital and the surrounding community. We continue to have the support of the Philomel Singers who hold an annual concert to raise funds for TCH. This year we also received donations from Tudeley cum Capel Churches and the Tonbridge Methodist Church. Also, we have funding from the TCH Cottage Club, which is managed by Jill Goldsworthy, which provides a monthly prize of £100 and donates its profits to the LOF, though the membership is declining.   We are very grateful for the generous support of these groups. There have been at least four donations in memory of people. Legacies are totally unpredictable form of income for a charity but very beneficial when received and dwarf sums raised from other sources.  

The League of Friends provides funds for the hospital and for the local community. This last year we have funded many small items to help the in- patients and a gazebo and garden chairs for the staff so they could meet outside safely while Covid- 19 was active. In total the sum comes to £7191.50. We provide the flowers for the two day-rooms, newspapers for patients and the coffee/tea and milk for the staff. We provide a hot-drinks vending machine, a trolley service and Christmas gifts for staff and patients. We have to thank Pauline Warren and Andrew Wheeler, and two of our Committee Members, Jean Millman and Daphne Males who help in the hospital. Daphne Males stopped this useful work mid-year, and while now not on the LOF Committee has kindly agreed to look after the gift boxes in some of the shops

We are grateful for Chris Parker and Kevin Burgess for keeping our website up to date and Jill Goldsworthy for managing the Cottage Club.  Connie Burgess’s role as Treasurer was taken over by Susan Greenhalgh while unfortunately the Secretary’s role has become vacant. Margaret Bull has kindly been taking the Minutes though this needs to be remedied by the appointment of a new Secretary.

At the beginning of the financial year in July 2019, Primrose and Somerhill Wards beds were being used for general rehabilitation. However soon from 12-14 beds were being used for post- operative rehabilitation of patients who have fractured a hip. One of the 14 beds on Goldsmid Ward is now being used for iv ambulatory care. The hospital inpatient beds are now under the same management. Victoria Mellors left on Maternity leave and the post of Matron is held by Caroline Essenhigh, who works part-time. Additional senior nursing staff are helping her. Courtney Hancock Peach was appointed as the new part-time Administrator for TCH.

The hospital was affected by Covid-19. It had been challenging but there was enough PPE equipment for the staff. There had been a lot of COVID patients and many deaths. By May, the hospital had got over the worst and was returning to a more normal regime with no COVID patients. Unfortunately, on 19.5.2020, there was a major flood in the hospital after there was a leak of water from the cold-water system above Goldsmid Ward which brought down some of the ceiling. All the patients were safely evacuated to other community hospitals. There was extensive damage to the nurses’ station, fire doors, and medical equipment and beds. The whole hospital was closed for extensive repairs which was likely to take at least two and half months.

On 1.4.2020 West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group was replaced by Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group. Prior to that, Adam Wickings had been working as Deputy Director of West Kent CCG and he continued to work locally in the role as a Director of West Kent Integrated Care Partnership which seeks to coordinate acute trust, community trusts, mental health trusts, primary care and social care. This will take over the main commissioning of services in West Kent in 2021.  In early May, Adam Wickings asked NHS Property Services to renew the lease. The LOF and local politicians felt this was too late to be initiating a renewal. The lease expires after 85 years on 27th September. West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group held a stakeholder meeting in late October 2019 on a proposal to create local care hubs as a base to centralise the provision of community services. The locations of the bases have not been decided (TCH already provides a base for a large number of these services). While it had been an expectation of a review of Community Hospitals which was meant to come to fruition in spring 2018, by March 2020 it had only got as far as a modelling exercise for the future. It was intimated by the NHS that the review of community hospitals and local care hubs would be completed before the lease needed renewing.

I have decided to resign as Chairman after the AGM for the financial year 2020-2021. I became Chairman in 2010. I am prepared to continue on the Committee for a year after that.   

— Dr David Goodridge, Chairman of the League of Friends of Tonbridge Cottage Hospital.