Campaign group Save Our NHS in Kent has launched a petition urging health commissioners to ensure accident and emergency departments are in place at all three of east Kent’s main 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 options have been put forward:
Option 1: Ashford will have a specialist A&E, and full maternity care. QEQM will retain an A&E unit, but it will have fewer services than it does now. QEQM will lose consultant-led maternity care as will Canterbury, meaning that women giving birth who are having complications may need to be transferred to Ashford. Canterbury will continue to have a GP-led Urgent Treatment Centre which was put in place after A&E was removed from the site.
Option 2: Canterbury will have a new hospital building provided by a developer in exchange for house-building permission on prime land. Canterbury will have acute, specialist services such as full A&E and consultant-led maternity. Ashford and QEQM Margate will lose A&E and full consultant-led maternity care. They will have GP-led Urgent Treatment Centres.
SONIK is campaigning for A&E at all three hospitals and a new petition has gained more than 300 signatures in two days.
A SONIK spokesperson said: “We’re asking local people not to fall into the trap of competing with other areas for what are essential services. We must unite and tell the powers that be that three A&Es are needed; no-one should be travelling over half an hour for A&E. Women should have consultant and midlife-led maternity departments in their local hospital. We must refuse their two options and demand a third.”
SONIK says the listening events arranged for the public to hear more about the proposals are inaccessible and say they have had complaints that the full implications of all the options are not being explained.
Carly Jeffrey of SONIK said: “Evidence shows that centralising A&Es into fewer, more remote centres actually doesn’t improve patient outcomes.
“We hope people across east Kent will sign our petition, share it with friends and family, and flat-out refuse to pick from the two options presented. Go to meetings or email the NHS managers and demand a third.”
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.
Thanet Listening events
|Tuesday 13 November
6.30pm – 9.30pm
|Ravenscliffe Suite, Pegwell Bay Hotel, 81 Pegwell Road, Ramsgate CT11 0NJ|
|Tuesday 20 November
9.45am – 12.45pm
|Global Generation Church
Unit 2, Westwood Business Park, Margate
Submit views a via the survey, open until 25 November, at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/EastKentNHS2018/
Find the group on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurNHSKent/