Health campaigners fighting the decision to close stroke units in east Kent have met their first funding target in just over four days.
Save Our NHS In Kent (SONIK) have raised some £5000 to help meet the costs of a judicial review of the decision by NHS bosses to replace six stroke units in Kent to three hyper-acute units.
The decision would mean the closure of the stroke unit in Margate’s QEQM hospital, with the nearest hyper-acute unit at Ashford, more than an hour’s journey away.
A spokesperson for SONIK said: “We are challenging both the number of stroke units NHS bosses are proposing and their location. The present plans are totally unsatisfactory. We want four hyper acute stroke units at good locations across the county including in Thanet.”
A final decision on the location for three hyper-acute stroke units (HASUs) across Kent & Medway was confirmed by the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups (JCCCG) at a meeting in Maidstone on February 14.
The units will be at Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital – meaning the closure of acute services at Margate’s QEQM Hospital as well as at Medway Hospital, Tunbridge Wells Hospital, and Kent & Canterbury Hospital – which has already had its service withdrawn due to the removal of training doctors by Health Education England in March 2017.
SONIK collected the money much faster than they expected.
The spokesperson said: “We had 30 days to collect this money. We’ve collected in just four and a bit days, which is great!”
“The speed with which we’ve collected this money shows how desperately worried people are about the threat to stroke services in this area.”
The health campaigners say they will to raise need more money in the future.
The spokesperson said: “This money has enabled us to mount our formal challenge, but if the NHS bosses refuse to change their plans then we will have to take it to the next stage of the legal process. We are not going to give up and will need to keep raising money.”
The same process has also been launched by Thanet Stroke Campaign, a separate group started by Labour county councillor Karen Constantine.
This group appointed public law expert Alex Rook of London based firm Irwin Mitchell after also hitting their first fundraising target.