Decision date announced for hyper-acute stroke units which will mean removal of service from Margate’s QEQM

QEQM Photo Chris Constantine

A final decision on the location for three hyper-acute units across Kent & Medway is expected to be made on February 14.

The Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups will present the final decision making business case from the stroke review which has been underway since 2015.

The proposed shortlist for the hyper-acute unit proposals were announced at the start of last year.

The preferred option was confirmed in September as Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital.

General stroke services are provided in all the hospitals across Kent and Medway, including the QEQM, but there are currently no specialist hyper acute units. NHS bosses in the region say larger, specialist units in other parts of the country have been shown to improve outcomes for people who have had a stroke.

The plan will mean the loss of emergency stroke services from Margate’s QEQM Hospital as well as at Medway and Tunbridge Wells hospitals.

SONIK campaigners

Thanet campaigners have been fighting the proposals, saying isle lives will be at risk because of journey times to Ashford. Members of Save Our NHS in Kent (SONIK) have consistently campaigned against the plans.

Calls have been made by the group for the Kent and Medway NHS to look at the proposals again to include a fourth HASU unit at the QEQM.

Some 5,000 responses were received during a consultation period, which ran from February to April 20,2018,  which were analysed by DJS Research, an independent research consultancy.

DJS said the majority of people who took part in the consultation agreed that hyper acute stoke units should be established in Kent and Medway.

But the location of hyper acute stroke units, and travel times to the proposed units, were the key area of concern, with particular concern for people living in Thanet. Many felt the geography of the area meant that four units would be better in order to provide fair and equal access to all residents.

Many respondents in the CT postcode area – which includes Thanet -did not feel any of the options were suitable and said Kent and Canterbury Hospital or Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital should be re-considered as part of the short-list.

As part of the review, health professionals in Kent and Medway say they are now designing new stroke rehabilitation services, including hubs.

Care will include rehabilitation therapy at home and in clinics as needed for up to six months; intensive rehabilitation at home three times a day, seven days a week; care in an inpatient rehabilitation unit for up to six months or care in a nursing or residential care home.

Kent and Medway NHS says the new approach to rehabilitation must happen at the same time as the implementation of hyper-acute stroke units.

Members of SONIK

Save Our NHS in Kent are organising members of the public to attend a public meeting of health committee councillors held at County Hall on Friday, January 25 at 9.30am.

If people want to attend but can’t afford the train fare to Maidstone, contact SONiK which will try and subsidise some costs. Those who are interested should email