Campaigners protest outside GP surgery in bid to keep emergency stroke services at QEQM Hospital

The protest outside Dashwood House

Campaigners protesting against plans to remove the emergency stroke service at Margate’s QEQM Hospital have held a demonstration outside a Ramsgate GP surgery.

Members of Save Our NHS in Kent (SONIK) held the protest outside Dashwood House which is where Dr Jihad Malasi is based, one of two Thanet GPs who are members of the clinical commissioning committee due to decide on the future of Kent’s stroke services in January. The other Thanet GP is Dr John Neden of the Eastcliff Practice.

A spokesperson for SONIK said: “Dr Malasi and Dr Neden will have a say in the final decision on the closure of Thanet’s only stroke unit. We are appealing to them in the strongest terms to do all they can to keep the unit open.”

The NHS in Kent and Medway – which includes all 8 Clinical Commissioning Groups – Bexley in south east London and the High Weald area of East Sussex, has plans for three hyper-acute stroke units in Kent and Medway with services earmarked to be provided at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford for all east Kent patients.

Campaigners say that when ambulance response times are taken into account the journey to Ashford from the isle may take around two hours.

A SONIK spokesperson said: “We believe patients have a right to know that their doctors are about to take a decision which may have a huge impact on their lives and the lives of their friends and family and to tell them what they think of that decision.

“This is the final stage of the process, the decision is in their hands. They know about the serious flaws in the plans, because we have sent our briefings to them on more than one occasion. We hope they will take this into account and reach an evidence-based decision.”

Campaigners are determined to keep the pressure on, with more action planned.

The spokesperson added: “We are planning more protests and more events. This is literally a matter of life and death for the people of Thanet. We must keep the stroke unit open.”

The NHS says hyper acute stroke units will reduce deaths as each will have a multi-disciplinary team of specialist stroke clinicians, seven days a week caring for patients in the critical first 72 hours.

The final decision on hyper-acute unit locations is expected to be confirmed in January or February.

As part of the review, health professionals in Kent and Medway say they will also be improving stroke rehabilitation services.


  1. Please don’t remove the emergency stroke services from our Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital. One for Thanet, one for Canterbury and one for Ashford is surely the safest and best practices for anyone unfortunatel enough to suffer a potentially life threatening or severe disability possibility stroke. The population of Thanet continues to grow with new born and many retiring hear to be near the sea. One hour at the very best including paramedics/ambulance attending you at point of stroke to take you all the way to Ashford. Wow!! No way.!! Traffic jams in Canterbury, hold up at Sturry train level crossing ( by pass there, years away). Horrible. You surely would want very near services. Staffing levels a problem.? We will, we can, train more people. Be proud, be honest and true.

  2. There is no evidence that concentrating services in Ashford will improve stroke outcomes for people of Thanet. There is already a well functioning stroke unit at QEQM, ambulances are driven directly to the back of the A&E where patients are admitted immediately. This decision is not based on best patient outcomes as these will clearly be endangered by the long delay to reach the Ashford hospital.

  3. The fighting against important and vital hospital services being removed must step up a gear until those responsible for the cuts realise their mistake and change their minds as there is not long left now.
    Not mentioned are that there are different types of strokes, all bad but some more debilitating than others, some that need immediate intervention, but a road journey the distance from Thanet to Ashford would take too long for a big percentage of stroke patients getting a satisfactory recovery. They also need to remember that calling 999 these days doesn’t always get you an instant response ambulance. The call handler has to prioritise the call from an assessment of what the caller tells them so they may not get all the details necessary to prioritise highly enough. Once an ambulance does arrive there is another assessment taken by the paramedics before deciding on whether to take the patient to hospital or not so all these factors delay any treatment they can expect to receive before even travelling for over an hour to Ashford’s William Harvey hospital.
    A friend of mine in Margate died last year from a brain stem stroke. An ambulance was called and arrived, the paramedics assessed him and recommended to his partner to call a doctor the next day if no improvement occurs, then left. The family later called for a second ambulance as they were concerned he was still falling in and out of consciousness and getting worse. The second crew immediately spotted what was happening and took him directly to the QEQM but it was too late by then to get any recovery as the brain had died. Just imagine having to have travelled all the way to Ashford too. Even if the first crew had spotted what was happening he would not have made it being taken that distance, but he might have if diagnosed earlier and taken directly to his local hospital unit in Margate!
    I expect there are many others who could give an account similar to this.
    I would like some reassurance of knowing the stroke unit is kept at Margate permanently and that other vital services are not removed either. The large population of Thanet and it’s surrounding towns and villages NEED it to be left there.

  4. Well done SONIK. Keep up the campaign. I feel ashamed that I was not there though it is easy for me to get there.
    Just look at France. Vigorous protest action can start to get results. The problem with Britain is that, though we face the same austerity as France, we have got sidetracked into pointlessly voting for Brexit as if that will make any difference. The French know better. They are aiming at the REAL culprits, their own government.

  5. These doctors are colluding with the Clinical Commissioning group bean counters to cut down the NHS, and break it up to sell it off! I have a letter from a Caroline Selkirk, who is the Managing Director of the Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, why is she a Managing Director?

    The NHS needs MORE not less money, as the population gets older, and demand increases. The QEQM is breaking up clinics, and concentrating them in other hospitals where people can’t access them by public transport. It cost me £27.00 recently to get a taxi from Ramsgate to the Kent & Canterbury, in order to get there in time for an appointment. We left at 8am, and only just made it for 9.30am, due to the traffic chaos in Canterbury at the time of day!

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