The brother of maverick US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will speak in an emergency conference on the NHS in Broadstairs on Saturday ( 27 January).
Larry Sanders, brother of Bernie who did unexpectedly well in the last US election, is a key speaker at the conference which will debate how to defend east Kent’s medical services.
Called “Defend Our NHS”, top of the conference agenda will be plans which campaigners say could mean the downgrading or even closure of local hospitals and surgeries.
A spokesperson for the Save Our NHS in Kent group: “Health bosses in east Kent are aiming to make savings of £292 million here and the way they’re going to do it is by cutting and centralising our medical services.
“Hospitals will be downgraded and doctors’ surgeries closed as GPs retire. The powers that be may deny it, but that’s what’s on the cards. The only way to prevent these cuts happening is for local people to take action now.”
The conference will include workshops on mental health, the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership plans and ways to defend local surgeries and hospitals.
Hosted by Thanet Trades Union Council, the conference will bring together individuals with experience of campaigning for the future of NHS in the Kent area.
Speakers will include Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield, health campaigner Dr Bob Gill, Jacqui Berry (Health Campaigns Together and Unison executive), Dr. Coral Jones (Vice chair of Doctors in Unite the Union) and Ken Rogers (Concern for Health in East Kent).
Larry Sanders will be a spokesperson for the Green Party.
Admission to the conference will be by optional donation.
The conference will be held from 10.30am — 3pm at the Queens Rd Baptist Church, 2 Queens Rd, Broadstairs.
It has been organised in response to the draft Health and Social Care Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), created by Kent and Medway health trusts, the NHS, Kent County Council and Medway Council.
Changes to services proposed as part on the plan include two options for A&E, which could mean a centralised service in Canterbury, as well as plans for three hyper acute stroke units for Kent and Medway – meaning current services will be removed from some hospitals, including QEQM in Margate.
GP surgeries could also undergo an overhaul with proposals for three GP ‘practice groupings’ in Thanet, each serving between 30,000 and 60,000 patients.