Health campaigners use High Street shop window to send a message to South Thanet MP

SONiK's message

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’.

SONIK campaigners

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.

Craig Mackinlay

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:

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

Read here:  Stroke service proposals: Consultant Dr David Hargroves

Read here: Save Our NHS in Kent: The proposed closure of QEQM’s stroke unit


  1. He will not see these in the high street until the next election, he has no interest in anything Thanet South unless the bandwagon is big enough.

    • Mackinlay needs to be concerned about what his voters want, or they might vote him out! The people in South Thanet have that power, and we should remind him of it: Email him using this address: [email protected]

  2. It is disgraceful that Craig Mackinlay is still saying ‘hyper acute centres…have demonstrably improved outcomes’…In a meeting with Craig Mackinlay, the lie about improved outcomes was explained in detail to him; he is completely aware that the London study showed virtually no improvement, the Manchester study showed no improvement, and the Northumbria study only shows improvements to minor metrics – no improvement to death and disability outcomes. The only study that shows a (tiny) uplift in death and disability outcomes is the London study, where the upper limit for travel times IS THIRTY MINUTES. That study also does not include any data about deaths in ambulances, it only tracks data on what happened to a patient once inside the hospital. Mackinlay yet again is copying and pasting paragraphs from the NHS execs who designed this plan, instead of thinking for himself and looking into the matter properly. Elected representatives like him ought to scrutinise plans and make damn sure that they benefit their constituents; Craig waves plans through without a thought, and when he is paid £80,000 a year to serve the public, that is pretty awful behaviour. SONIK advises everyone living in South Thanet to sign our petition or to write to Craig Mackinlay direct, and urge him to raise this in parliament, to GENUINELY fight for the QEQM, and to do everything in his power to stop the closure of the stroke unit. Here is a recording of Craig’s meeting with a SONIK member constituent, in which he is informed of all the reasons to stop supporting the QEQM stroke unit’s closure:

  3. The existing Stroke unit at QEQM is an acute stroke unit, it is better than units in other parts of Kent; Mackinlay calling it a ‘general’ stroke unit implies it is deficient and inadequate in some way, but there are specialist stroke consultants at the unit, and a team of highly dedicated staff who do not want the unit to close. Patients report excellent treatment there, and in key measures, it is above the national average. The improvements that would come with a Hyper Acute unit could and should be implemented in the existing stroke units in Kent hospitals, rather than cutting the number of units in Lent from six to three. Margate must retain a stroke unit.

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