Council candidates to be in spotlight over health at hustings in Ramsgate

QEQM Hospital Photo Chris Constantine

Health campaigners are calling on Thanet local election candidates to attend a hustings next week and explain their position on the future of the NHS

The Save Our NHS In Kent (SONIK) group has called the public hustings meeting for Wednesday, April 10 to give candidates the opportunity to share views on important issues such as the threatened closure of the stroke unit in Margate’s QEQM hospital.

A spokesperson for SONIK said: “If the stroke unit in Margate is closed, stroke sufferers in Thanet will have to travel over an hour to Ashford for emergency treatment, on top of 40 minutes for ambulance delays for 10% of patients. Local politicians need to stand up and be counted on this issue.”

Health chiefs say the implementation of a hyper-acute stroke unit at Ashford – meaning the closure of QEQM – will save lives because they will be able to provide expert care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Kent & Medway NHS says this will reduce patients’ risk of dying and minimise their risk of long-term disability.

Candidates will also be asked about proposed changes to other hospital services such as A&E and maternity.

The SONIK spokesperson: “It’s not just the stroke unit, the whole future of Margate hospital now seems under threat, with huge implications for Thanet. With the local elections coming up on May 2, the voters of Thanet urgently need to know how the people after their vote feel about the future of the NHS here.

“This is a great chance for members of the public to put questions to candidates and for candidates to put their views. We look forward to welcoming all with an interest in the NHS.”

SONIK will also be sending out questionnaires to all TDC candidates on local NHS-related matters.

SONIK’s Carly Jeffrey said: “As there is a lot of variance within some of the parties, we want to ask every single candidate what they think about the stroke unit, A&E and GP surgeries, to see what they think is acceptable and the best outcome for Thanet residents.

“We will also send a questionnaire to all the councillors on the Kent County Council health and overview scrutiny committee, many of whom are standing for district council roles in this round of elections.”

The panel so far consists of Green Party – Becky Wing; Liberal Democrats – Angie Curwen; Labour Party – Helen Elizabeth Whitehead; Thanet Independents – Stuart Piper; Womens Equality Party – Kanndiss Riley and Samara Jones-Hall – Independent.

The hustings will be at 7pm on Wednesday, April 10 at the Oddfellows Hall, 142 High St, Ramsgate CT11 9TY.

On the panel: – Labour: Helen Whitehead (Margate Central) – Conservative: Cllr Lesley Game (Cliftonville East) – Lib Dem: Margaret Hay (Westbrook) – Women’s Equality Party: Kanndiss Riley (Cliftonville East) – Thanet Independents: Cllr Rev. Stuart Piper (Northwood) –  Green Party: Becky Wing (Central Harbour).

Independent: Samara Hall-Jones (Central Harbour) has withdrawn herself from the election due to medical reasons,

For more information see www.facebook.com/saveournhskent or email saveourNHSkent@gmail.com

District council candidate profiles will be on The Isle of Thanet News website later today (April 4).