We’re all told that if you think someone’s having a stroke you have to act quickly – time is brain, they say, as delays in treatment literally lead to brain cells dying.
Over the last year I’ve been to endless “consultation” meetings about our local hospital. Basically the powers that be in the NHS in our area want to move all acute stroke services to Ashford, even though we’ve got a very efficient stroke unit in QEQM.
These meetings usually involve men in suits telling us how they’ve thought about this really carefully and the outcome they’ve decided is for the best. But they have to look as if they’re consulting us so we get to give our opinions, fill in surveys and write to them. They call them “listening events” but it’s mostly been about us listening to them and them not listening to us!
But we in Thanet realised that we are going to get the worst bit of the deal a long time ago. The hint was that the options we were being asked to vote on for where the top notch stroke units were to be located were nowhere near Thanet. We were supposed to choose between a combination of hospitals but not including our local one, QEQM.
The nearest unit will be at Ashford, an hour away from Thanet, if you’re lucky with traffic. At one of the “listening events” someone from the ambulance service admitted it was at least an hours drive to Ashford from Thanet, even though the person leading the discussion had said it was 40 minutes.
Not surprisingly we were a bit upset. Especially people like me whose blood clots very willingly – I’ve had one thrombosis already so I’m at risk of clots getting going again and this time heading for my brain – a stroke!
I joined a campaign group, Save Our National Health in Kent (SONIK), which has done its own research and found fault with most of what we’ve been offered. We’ve had demonstrations, sent in petitions, thousands of people have lobbied their MPs and the local health bosses, got cross party political support etc etc. Hundreds of us from all over Kent marched in freezing February winds because no-one wants this new system.
Thanet has a high prevlance of stroke, according to a report by the kent and Medway Public Health Obsevatory. This is because we’re poor and unhealthier than, for instance, those in north Kent and we want to take our strokes to QEQM.
Now the results of the “consultation” are out, and guess what? We’ll have to go to Ashford with our strokes! The stroke unit at QEQM will have to close. The staff are unhappy but daren’t speak out and we – the likely stroke patients are furious.
If you see the side of my face fall, an arm drops and my speech slurs, you’ll have to get me Ashford.
But if you have time before then SONIK is planning a protest on Saturday October 6th at 12 noon outside the QEQM on the Ramsgate road. We need to make people listen, not just pretend to! The final decision is not until December or January. There’s still time for us to be heard.