Health campaigners urge residents to ‘unite and fight’ for A&E at 3 east Kent hospitals

Campaigners want A&E services at all 3 main east Kent hospitals

Campaigners are urging residents across east Kent to unite and fight for full Accident and Emergency services at Margate, Ashford and Canterbury hospitals.

The call comes as Kent and Medway NHS holds a series of listening events outlining proposals for changes to hospital services including A&E, maternity, children’s inpatients and inpatient orthopaedic care.

Currently the three main hospitals – at Ashford, Canterbury and Margate – each provide different services, with A&E departments at Margate and Ashford and an Urgent Care Centre at Canterbury. A range of specialist services are at different hospitals, such as the trauma unit at William Harvey Hospital and inpatient kidney services  at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

NHS professions and the East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) say specialist services, such as stroke, trauma, vascular and specialist heart services, need to be centralised and located together.

Two proposals concerning A&E

The first option is for an A&E at William Harvey Hospital as part of the major emergency centre which would also provide specialist services plus an A&E department at QEQM.

This would be supported by 24/7 GP-led care, including an Urgent Treatment Centre treating illnesses and injuries which are not 999 emergencies, in Canterbury.

The second is for an A&E department for east Kent  at a major emergency centre within a new-build hospital at Canterbury. This would mean that A&E, acute medical care and complex inpatient surgery, which currently take place at William Harvey and QEQM, would relocate to Canterbury.

This would be supported by 24/7 GP led care, including Urgent Treatment Centres treating illnesses and injuries which are not 999 emergencies, in Ashford and Margate.

Both of the options propose bringing together all specialist inpatient services, including trauma, specialist heart services, inpatient treatment for veins and arteries (vascular services) and specialist renal, urology, head and neck services and children’s inpatient services in a major emergency hospital with specialist services.

This would be at William Harvey Hospital in option 1 and Kent & Canterbury Hospital in option 2. These services would not then be provided elsewhere in east Kent. They are not provided at all hospital sites now; but they are provided at different sites rather than one specialist site.

Options research

Research documents by the Kent and Medway NHS say east Kent could support two emergency centres, but due to the population numbers, one of the emergency centres would also have to be a major emergency centre with specialist services.

The document also says the East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) – which runs east Kent hospitals – has a workforce of 20 appropriate consultants. The requirement is for 10 consultants to cover a 7 day week rota for an emergency centre with an acute medical unit of 30 beds, meaning there is staffing for two units.

The document adds: “We conclude that east Kent should have a single major emergency centre with specialist services, which would also be an emergency centre. It could also support a second emergency centre or medical emergency centre.

“A third emergency centre or medical emergency centre could not be sustained.”

New build hospital

Initial analysis carried out by the Trust estimated a new build hospital would cost circa £665.3million. However, this estimate was made before the offer from Quinn Estates to provide the hospital shell in Canterbury as part of a development of 2,000 new homes.

A similar analysis looked at the costs of removing all services from one site and relocating them onto the other two sites. The total cost of this proposal would be circa £436.9million

The document says of the Quinn proposal: “A proposal has been received from a commercial third party, to build the shell of new hospital in Canterbury, adjacent to the existing K&CH site and gift this to the NHS.

“This proposal represents an opportunity to consider a further option that would see the construction of a single major emergency centre with specialist services in Canterbury, on and adjacent to, the current K&CH site. This would be supported by two peripheral hospitals) no longer providing emergency care.

“The proposal from the developer represents an opportunity to establish a single major emergency centre with specialist services at Canterbury and would see inpatient services consolidated at this site from the QEQMH and the WHH.”

The document also states: “The provision of a single Major Emergency Centre with specialist services at K&CH and the provision of two supporting sites (Integrated Care Hub / Urgent Care Centre) would free up significant estate at both QEQM and WHH.

“It would also mean that a single elective orthopaedic centre located at the WHH could be delivered.”

‘Modern health service’

Caroline Selkirk, Managing Director of East Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “We want to test with the public our emerging proposals which are still being developed, led by doctors, nurses and others from the hospital and clinical commissioning groups.

“This will help us understand people’s views, and take onboard their ideas and concerns. It is a vital part of the process we need to go through as we identify options to take to formal public consultation next year.

“Our aim is to design modern health services that are high quality, meet people’s changing needs and are sustainable for years to come.”

The proposals are not yet part of a formal public consultation.  It is expected that formal consultation will take place later next year.

Unite and fight

Save Our NHS in Kent protest against the plans earlier this year Photo Chris Constantine

Save Our NHS in Kent campaigners say the options divide east Kent residents and could involve people fighting for their own areas with the result that everyone loses.

A spokesman said residents need to unite and demand a third option for full A&E at all three hospitals -including Canterbury which currently does not provide this service.

A spokesman said: “It will make the NHS executives’ job much harder if the residents of Thanet, Canterbury and Ashford unite to reject the two options being put forward.

“Similar to the stroke consultation, where Thanet was given no option to choose from, here we are being given no option to have three full A&E units at our main hospitals. Public consultations are not supposed to narrow down options in this way, and they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

“We say: go along to the listening events and demand a third option in which all three hospitals get a full A&E with specialist care. Make this clear both verbally and in writing.”

Find the full proposals for services, including maternity and elderly care, here

Listening events

Tuesday 30 October
6.00pm registration
6.15pm – 9.15pm
Institute Hall, Herne Street, Herne CT6 7HE
Wednesday 31 October
9.30am registration
9.45am – 12.45pm
Club Room, Elwick Club, Church Road, Ashford TN23 1RD
Tuesday 6 November
6.15pm registration
6.30pm – 9.30pm
Upper Suite, Sports Pavilion, South Road, Hythe  CT21 6AR
Wednesday 7 November
9.30am registration
9.45am – 12.45pm
County Room, The Abode, 30 – 33 High Street, Canterbury CT1 2RX
Tuesday 13 November
6.15pm registration
6.30pm – 9.30pm
Ravenscliffe Suite, Pegwell Bay Hotel, 81 Pegwell Road, Ramsgate CT11 0NJ
Thursday 15 November
9.30am registration
9.45am – 12.45pm
Grand Marquee, Ramada Hotel (Dover), Singledge Lane, Whitfield, Dover CT16 3EL
Thursday 15 November
6.15pm registration
6.30pm – 9.30pm
Holiday Inn (Ashford Central), Canterbury Road, Kennington, Ashford TN24 8QQ
Tuesday 20 November
9.30am registration
9.45am – 12.45pm

Global Generation Church

Unit 2, Westwood Business Park, Margate

Register online at Alternatively, email [email protected] or call 01622 211940 to reserve a place.

Online survey

Submit views a via the  survey, open until 25 November, at


Find SONiK on facebook at

A petition launched to save A&E at QEQM has gained more than 7,000 signatures. Find it here

A protest in writing

A beautifully written protest sign in chalk has appeared at Dumpton Gap in protest at the proposed changes to services.

The writing, outlining the issue and what action people can take, was photographed by resident Ylande Evison.

You say about the plans:

Tammy Leach Tammy FlackWhat about those with no transport or means of getting to & from these places. My children are asthmatic & Canterbury is a hell of a trek when I don’t drive if they start having problems.

Louise Harris: Wtaf. I have two children who are in hospital regularly. It’s hard enough when they are admitted to London but to have to be isolated in Canterbury when you have support in Thanet is not on. What about when I have to use epipens and they want to take us by ambulance to Canterbury and I’ve not got the sodding transport to get home for my other two. I am beyond bloody cross.

Mike Couchman: So if A & E, specialist services, and children’s and maternity services are lost from QEQM, how many relatively well paid jobs will also disappear from the employment desert that is Thanet? It will drain umpteen millions of pounds from Thanet’s already anaemic local economy.

Government spending should be directed towards supporting and reviving sickly local economies such as Thanet, not further degrading and weakening them by measures like this.

Tanya Naylor-HandsI don’t know but from my experience personally i would find it better to all be in one place, because recently we spent 10 hours at QEQM a&e then Rainbow ward to then have to be transferred to Ashford for the specialist treatment,

I would have preferred even though an inconvenience to have just gone straight to Ashford for them to deal with it and I’m sure it would have been a lot quicker, I cannot fault the service we received at both hospitals but if this shake up and proposition is a way of organising things and making it more straightforward for the future then I’m all for the change, But of course I’m not naive and can see how it could be difficult for others.

Christopher BrownHaving had a child in QEQM then had that child looked after regularly in Rainbow ward I am all for maintaining and growing QEQM. However I am also a pragmatist. The NHS is about the best care for the patient. If this means centralised services then unfortunately I agree even if it means the associated disruption it will bring.


  1. Hi Tanya, the reason you had to spend 10 hours in A&E at QEQM, which must have been awful, is because the A&E and urgent care centre at Canterbury hospital have been closed down. Canterbury has 250,000 people and 7 million visitors per year. This population and the very negative impact on QEQM and Ashford waiting times since the A&E AND the urgent care centre were closed in Canterbury, illustrate why there needs to be three emergency A&Es. Even if the Canterbury one is not a specialist A&E, needs to be able to see and assess people quickly, admit most cases from A&E if needed, then transfer to QEQM or Ashford if more complex. This will be a minority of people, 95% of people who go to A&E do NOT have strokes or heart attacks.

  2. Also to consider the proposal from a private developer, who stands to make many many millions of pounds, to build a shell of some part of a hospital in Canterbury is irresponsible. NHS services should not be planned on the back of an envelope, we need a co-ordinated strategy provided by and for the NHS, A shell will be a small part of the cost of relocating from the other two hospitals, outfitting and running the new services. When will this be put out to competitive tender? I can see many other developers wanting a large slice of the public pie. Will millions be spent in court once ‘competition’ laws are not followed by the Trust?

  3. If there are many millions of pounds to spend on wastage like proposed then save the money and put it towards keeping the services where they are being well used.

    A bribe of an empty hospital shell in exchange for some prime building land for posh houses shows that backhanders are still going on within the walls of these Government departments.

    We need these civil servants replaced ASAP.

  4. I just wish the powers that me would leave QEQM alone, how much is being spent on all these meetings and staff to decide these changes to our wonderful hospital, why is there an extension being built in Margate if they are going to shut it?
    My sister would be dead if she had been taken to Ashford after a stroke recently also my husband.Margate needs these services

  5. Surely, the whole intention in improving the health services would be to :—
    A) centralise the best practice, equipment and clinicians in one place
    B) have such central services in LOTS of places convenient to patients and their families.
    So there would be the best services for ALL conditions centralised in QEQM, Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone, Chatham etc.
    This would cost more, of course, but what else would we spend it on? We just need to get the big corporations to pay their proper tax and to close down the tax havens so they have to pay the going rate to the UK Exchequer, not a peanuts tax rate to a tiny government in the Virgin Islands or Belize.

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