Ramsgate businesswoman and former Labour parliamentary hopeful Raushan Ara has launched a petition to save the accident and emergency services at Margate’s QEQM Hospital.
A proposal to remove A&E from Margate to relocate it at a Canterbury ‘super-hospital‘ will put lives at risk, says Mrs Ara, mum to son Junayd who has special needs and is a frequent visitor to the A&E department.
Health commissioners are meeting tomorrow (30 November) to consider two options for how future hospital services might be organised in east Kent – one meaning the removal of A&E from QEQM and Ashford to a new ‘super-hospital’ in Canterbury and the other retaining services much as they already are.
Currently the three main hospitals – at Ashford, Canterbury and Margate – each provide different services, with A&E departments at Margate and Ashford and an Urgent Care Centre at Canterbury. A range of specialist services are located at different hospitals. For example, the trauma unit is located at William Harvey Hospital, and inpatient kidney services are at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
OPTION 1: Retain services
Two emergency hospitals with 24/7 A&E departments, of which one would have the full range of specialist services. In addition, the third hospital would have a 24/7 GP-led urgent care centre, treating urgent illnesses and injuries that do not need to be seen by A&E doctors.
One of the two emergency hospitals would also be the centre for highly specialist services in east Kent (such as trauma, vascular and specialist heart services).
- William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, as a major emergency centre with 24/7 A&E department and the centre for specialist services in east Kent;
- Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM), Margate, as the second emergency hospital, with 24/7 A&E;
- Kent and Canterbury Hospital as the 24/7 GP-led Urgent Treatment Centre.
OPTION 2: Remove A&E to a centralised ‘super-hospital’
This potential option is a new build connected to the current Kent and Canterbury Hospital, which would be a single major emergency centre for all of east Kent, with one 24/7 A&E and all specialist services at the same hospital (such as trauma, vascular and specialist heart services).
This option would mean that acute services (such as A&E, acute medicine and all specialist services) would move to this site from the QEQM Hospital and the William Harvey Hospital. Instead these sites would have 24/7 GP-led urgent treatment centres, as well as diagnostics (such as X-ray and CT scans), day surgery, outpatient services and rehabilitation.
It has been possible to consider and include this potential option because developer Quinn Estates has offered to donate to the NHS land and the shell of a new hospital which it would build adjacent to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, as part of a development to build 2,000 new homes.
‘Lives at risk’
Mrs Ara says the second option will be a risk to life.
She said: “I wholeheartedly oppose this move as I know that it will create a risk to the lives of the people who need this vital service. The time taken to travel to Canterbury from Thanet or Ashford could mean the difference between life and death to those involved in road accidents, attack victims, elderly people who have suffered falls, domestic violence victims, and various other scenarios, where life may be threatened.
“We need to keep (both) hospital A&E units functioning, as they serve a need in their respective communities.
“I have a special needs son, who has global learning difficulties and severe epilepsy. When he suffers from epleptic fits, we often have to use the A&E facilities. I am sure that there are many others, who are in a similar situation, and need to do likewise.”
Mrs Ara has now launched the online petition, to be sent to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in a bit to get more funding for east Kent’s A&E centres.
Local Labour activists have also been working with CHEK (Concern for Health in East Kent) to call an urgent public meeting, which will be held at Chatham & Clarendon House Grammar School, Chatham Street, on Saturday, December 9, at 10am.
Find more details at http://kentandmedway.nhs.uk/