Thanet council leader and advisory committee ‘vehemently opposed’ to NHS stroke service plans

QEQM Hospital Photo Chris Constantine

Thanet council’s QEQM advisory group says it will not back plans for changes to stroke services that will mean the removal of the unit at QEQM in Margate in favour of a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU) in Ashford.

Health chiefs want to create three hyper acute stroke units for Kent and Medway.

A shortlist of options for the specialist units lists only the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford for east Kent.

The NHS in Kent and Medway – which includes all 8 Clinical Commissioning Groups – Bexley in south east London and the High Weald area of East Sussex have been consulting on the proposals.

The consultation closes at midnight tonight (April 20).

The NHS says hyper acute stroke units will reduce deaths as each will have a multi-disciplinary team of specialist stroke clinicians, seven days a week caring for patients in the critical first 72 hours.

But Thanet campaigners say isle lives will be at risk because of journey times to Ashford. They want the NHS to re-examine the possibility of a HASU at QEQM.

SONIK spokesperson Carly Jeffrey

SONIK campaigner Carly Jeffrey said: “The problem with this plan is that there is no evidence that it will work and be safe for those with longer journey times.”

That view has been backed by Thanet council.

At QEQM Hospital Cabinet Advisory Group, chaired by Cllr Lesley Game, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, met yesterday (April 19) to consider a response to the consultation on changes to stroke services.

Following the meeting, Thanet council leader Cllr Bob Bayford said on behalf of the group: “The Cabinet Advisory Group ​is vehemently opposed to the proposals for stroke provision as they are currently.

“While improvements to stroke services are needed to achieve better outcomes for patients, at present the proposition shows no option that adequately covers the East Kent area.

“Members of the public are urged to review the current proposals and to make their voices heard. The consultation closes at midnight on Friday 20 April.”

Committee member Cllr Jenny Matterface added: “It was good to see cross-party working producing a well-argued outcome to be sent to the stroke consultation.  The questionnaire that seemingly ignored Thanet’s specific issues was discussed in great detail and responses reflecting the special situation faced by Thanet’s residents added in detail.

“Thanet’s demographic, lower car ownership and issues getting to Ashford led to the Cabinet Advisory Group arguing for a fourth unit to be based  at QEQM.”

‘We need to change stroke services’

A spokesman for the Kent and Medway stroke consultation team said: “Stroke staff currently work extremely hard but our services are not consistently meeting national standards and we need to change how stroke services are organised across the county.

“While the options that have been consulted on would mean longer travel times for some people, we expect our proposals to reduce the time between people having their stroke and starting specialist treatment. We believe our proposals would help people get the best possible care during the critical first 72 hours following a stroke, bringing our services in line with the best in the country.

The consultation documents can be viewed online:

Find details of SONIK here


  1. We can’t allow this to just proceed. We need the best stroke services in Thanet. The road structure and traffic congestion makes travelling to Ashford out of the question for many patients.
    A friend of mine died after having a stroke last year in Thanet and that was with all the problems with waiting an hour for an ambulance just to turn up and several calls to the service. The first crew failed to diagnose the symptoms happening there in front of them and left giving advice to see a doctor the next day. It wasn’t until a second ambulance was called out later that the crew decided to take him in. A number of hours had passed just getting to the QEQM. Just imagine this happening again but then having to travel all the way to Ashford. It is insane that they can tell you that the first 72 hours is OK to receive treatment when we all know it isn’t so. Margate should have been on that list and I hope everyone makes such a fuss that they don’t downgrade our hospital. I know by previous events that consultations are just an PR exercise and services usually go anyway but we must fight this as it is our services. The amount of money they have wasted on this so far could have set up and kept running a unit here!

  2. Well done, so local conservatives are supporting us in sonik, the only opposition is from our 2 Tory mps

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