County council leader calls for A&E at all three east Kent hospitals

QEQM hospital

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter is calling on the NHS to opt for a new hospital to be built in Canterbury with consultant-led A&E and specialist services, alongside continuing accident and emergency services at William Harvey and QEQM.

Health commissioners agreed on November 30 that two potential options for accident and emergency care and six options for planned inpatient orthopaedic care in east Kent, should be assessed further, to see which should go forward to public consultation next year.

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.

The two options currently being assessed are:

Option 1, an estimated £160million NHS investment:

  • a much bigger, modern, A&E at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, which would also provide services for people that need highly specialist care (such as trauma, vascular and specialist heart services) in east Kent
  • an expanded, modern A&E at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM), Margate, with inpatient care for people who are acutely unwell, emergency and day surgery, maternity and geriatric care
  • investment in beds and services at Kent and Canterbury Hospital which would have a 24/7 GP-led Urgent Treatment Centre, and services including diagnostics (such as X-ray and CT scans), day surgery, outpatient services and rehabilitation.

Option 2, an estimated £250million NHS investment:

  • the fitting out of a new build and refurbishment of some of the current buildings connected to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, which would provide a single 24/7 A&E and all specialist services (such as trauma, vascular and specialist heart services) for the whole of east Kent
  • QEQM Hospital and William Harvey Hospital 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.

Developer Quinn Estates has offered to donate to the NHS land and the shell of a new hospital, as part of a development of 2,000 new homes, which includes an access road from the A2. It would be subject to planning permission.

But Cllr Carter says all three sites should have A&E facilities and Canterbury should also have a new hospital.


Speaking at a council meeting yesterday (December 7) Cllr Carter said: “I am seriously concerned about the two options currently being proposed by East Kent Hospital Trust for a public consultation. I believe a third option must be developed.

“We need a new hospital for Canterbury to service the existing population of the catchment area, alongside their proposals for the QEQM and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

“Most importantly the new hospital in Canterbury must have consultant-led A&E services, acute medicine and critical care, and access to surgical opinion.

“The suggestion is that Canterbury does not need a hospital with full consultant-led A&E and specialist services as it is contrary to the Keogh hurdle criteria set out in the advice from NHS England on the Emergency Care Review.

“However, I believe a new hospital is needed, because the criteria states that to support consultant-led A&E a population of 250-300,000 is required.

“We have figures that show that the current population served by Canterbury hospital is 240,000 and by 2030 there will be 280,000 residents in the catchment area.

“Simon Cook, the leader of Canterbury City Council is in full support, that we should press for a third option to be put on the table.”

Cllr Carter said at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week: “If there isn’t a third option, I have no doubt that HOSC will refer this to the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt.”

A meeting will be held with health officials next Tuesday.

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