Save Our NHS in Kent members have used an empty shop window to highlight their message to South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay.
The health campaigners have been putting posters in the window of the High Street premises for their posters and messages such as ‘Save Our Stroke Services’ and ‘What is Happening to Thanet’s GP Surgeries?’
The aim is to let residents know about campaign updates regarding their efforts to halt plans to close QEQM’s stroke unit, as well as news about the threat to the hospital’s A&E. SONIK have taken over the window with the kind permission of the owner, who is sympathetic to their cause.
Kent and Medway NHS plans to remove services from hospitals including QEQM as part of a bid to create three hyper-acute units across Kent and Medway.
A shortlist of options for the specialist units lists only the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford to cover east Kent.
This week sees a new window display with a direct message to MP Craig Mackinlay. It reads ‘CRAIG MACKINLAY MUST FIGHT 4 QEQM’.
A SONIK spokesperson said: “One of our members met with Craig at the end of June and asked him why he wasn’t representing his constituents on this issue, as there is overwhelming anger at the plan to send stroke patients to Ashford instead of QEQM.
“Craig appeared to be taking some of the points we made on board, but then last week he stated that he wanted no further meetings with us, and that he would not be raising the issue in parliament, as we requested”.
The group are asking Mr Mackinlay to now raise the issue when Parliament returns after summer recess on September 5.
Earlier this year Mr Mackinlay said he was fighting to retain many services at Margate’s QEQM Hospital but could see the advantages of the proposed hyper-acute units.
He said: “My understanding is that, unlike our current stroke services, these ‘hyper acute’ stroke units would operate with a multi-disciplinary team of stroke specialists, providing expert care around the clock with consultants on the wards seven days a week.
“The new units will allow people to receive the best possible care in the vital first few hours and days immediately after their stroke – saving lives and reducing disability. Such ‘hyper acute’ centres, where they are a feature of stroke services in other parts of the country, have demonstrably improved outcomes. This should be at the heart of decision making.
“Each site in Kent and Medway would also have an acute stroke unit where people may go after the initial 72 hours for further care until they are ready to be discharged and have a transient ischaemic attack (TIA or ‘mini stroke’) clinic.
“Kent currently does not have any hyper acute stroke units working in this way; patients are currently cared for in general stroke units. Good as they are, they do not operate in such an advanced and intensive way and do not achieve best outcomes compared to other areas that have chosen the ‘hyper acute’ route for treatment.”
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has written to acute care director Patricia Davies to say that a fourth stroke centre in Thanet is necessary.
SONIK have posted a recording of their meeting with Mr Mackinlay online, and have also set up a petition to urge the MP to fight against the Stroke Review plan in parliament. The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/craig-mackinlay-must-raise-the-qeqm-stroke-issue-in-parliament
SONIK will be having stalls at Margate Carnival this weekend as well as at Margate Pride next Saturday.
Find out more about the group at www.facebook.com/saveournhskent