Health campaigners launch petition for A&E departments at all three main east Kent hospitals

SONIK campaigners

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
6.15pm registration
6.30pm – 9.30pm
Ravenscliffe Suite, Pegwell Bay Hotel, 81 Pegwell Road, Ramsgate CT11 0NJ
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  the Sonik petition here

Find the group on facebook at



    What will happen under Option 1?
    – Ashford’s A&E will become a “Medical Emergencies Centre”, which will be the new name for full A&E.They will have all the best services, but will have the whole population of East Kent relying on those services too.
    – Thanet will have an A&E in name only, it will no longer be a full A&E, as certain emergencies will have to be rushed to Ashford, one hour away, in an emergency. This will apply to those who are already in the hospital and in a very frail state. Specialist A&E care and most forms of acute care will be in Ashford. All stroke patients will be sent one hour to Ashford with no urgent clot-busting drugs or scans being available in the ambulance.
    – Canterbury will still have no A&E, no acute stroke care, no consultant-led maternity care, and will face long journeys to Ashford or QEQM for life-threatening conditions. Women giving birth who are having complications will be transferred to Ashford in an ambulance, mid- delivery, if required. They will have a GP-led Urgent Treatment Centre, which is not staffed by consultants, and is in no way equal to an A&E.
    – Journey times: Canterbury to Ashford: 45 mins. Herne Bay and Thanet to Ashford: one hour.

    What will happen under Option 2?
    – Canterbury: This option will mean a new building and much needed refurbishments to Canterbury’s hospital, which has had many services removed without consultation over the years. Canterbury will have the only full A&E (Medical Emergencies Centre) in all of East Kent; all stroke patients and all patients needing life-saving acute care will be taken to this new centre in an emergency by ambulance. Limited care (stabilising the patient) will be on offer in the ambulance. Women giving birth in other areas who are having complications will be transferred to this hospital in an ambulance, mid-delivery, if required. Canterbury will have the best services, but will have the whole population of East Kent relying on those services too.
    – Ashford and Margate will have a GP-led Urgent Treatment Centres, which are not staffed by consultants, and are in no way equal to an A&E.
    – Journey times: Romney Marsh and Tenterden to Canterbury: one hour. Thanet to Canterbury: 45 mins. Broadstairs to Canterbury: 50 mins.
    Recent studies* show that centralising stroke and A&E into fewer ‘specialised’ units brings no improvements to patient outcomes. One study** shows that mortality could rise by 2.3% for those with emergency conditions. If A&Es are moved further away. These plans will be expensive, will lead to far longer journey times, and could lead to deaths in ambulances in severe cases. WE must have a third option which improves the existing sites and provides a specialist top quality A&E at each of the three east Kent hospitals.

    * ‘The Centralisation Myth’, a SONIK briefing document covering 3 studies –
    ** “Closing Five Emergency Departments in England between 2009 and 2011” – Knowles, Nicholl.

  2. Centralisation fails on many levels as detailed in the post above.

    Centralisation also leads to increased congestion at those locations as there work loads increase. Not only will this put more strain on the centre as the population to cover is greatly increased.

    These are cuts folks, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  3. We need three fully functioning hospitals in East Kent with A&E, stroke services, maternity services, etc. We have an elderly and otherwise needy population. The transport by road is congested and the public transport is unreliable and costly.

  4. Ramsgate evening consultation is booked outr. We need further consultation dates that people can attend, not one that is arranged during normal working hours, which prohibits attendance. This is a hugely important topic that impacts on us all .

Comments are closed.