Campaigners invite all to Join Hands For Our Hospital

SONiK heading a previous rally at the QEQM Photo Carly Jeffrey

An “emergency event” is being held on Saturday, August 3 in which a Thanet nurse will call on people to hold hands in support of Margate’s QEQM hospital.

The Save Our NHS In Kent (SONIK) campaign group is going to demonstrate against the threatened removal of services — including Thanet’s only stroke unit — from the hospital.

Called “Join Hands For Our Hospital” SONIK are inviting people to come to the hospital and join hands as a sign of their commitment to safeguard its future.

Speakers calling on people to take part will include Thanet councillor Candy Gregory, who is a registered nurse, and SONIK’s Carly Jeffrey.

Carly  said: “QEQM is Thanet’s only hospital. Not only is our stroke unit under threat but we also risk the closure or downgrading of our accident and emergency and maternity units. We have to protest against any attempt to take these services from us.”

Carly stressed their campaign isn’t just about Thanet — but the whole of Kent. She said: “We are backing all Kent’s hospitals. We can’t afford to have any services downgraded”

Join Hands For Our Hospital is the latest event after many months of campaigning by SONIK to protect services in Kent. The group is also mounting a judicial review of the decision to cut the number of hospitals offering acute stroke services in Kent and Medway in favour of three specialised hyper-acute units.

SONIK spokesperson Carly Jeffrey

Carly said: “Saturday’s event is an expression of Thanet’s community solidarity and we have received great support from all parts of the county.

“The whole SONIK campaign been a magnificent triumph for community campaigning. It is entirely independent of all political parties, drawing on activists of all colours and none. We all need our NHS, want to see it survive and prosper and we will fight for it with all our strength.

“NHS bosses claim their plans to rationalise services in Kent will result in better treatment overall, but we believe SONIK’s analysis shows this not to be the case.

“I urge everyone concerned about our local health service here in Thanet and across Kent to come and hold hands with us on Saturday. This really is a matter of life or death.”

The NHS in Kent and Medway say

The NHS in Kent and Medway say: ““The decision to establish three hyper acute stroke units in Kent and Medway is supported by local, regional and national specialists, including the four hospital trusts and the senior stroke consultants in Kent and Medway, who explained their reasons for this in a recent blog

“These specialists agree there is overwhelming evidence to show that the current under-performance of stroke services in Kent and Medway means more people are dying than would be expected, and people are being left with avoidable disability. This is wholly unacceptable and must change as a matter of urgency.

“While undertaking the review of urgent stroke services, the NHS in Kent and Medway considered the health and wellbeing of the entire population who use them. Factors taken into account included population growth, deprivation, travel times to potential hyper acute stroke units, and impact on specialist stroke staff.

“It is our very carefully considered view that the option approved – for hyper acute stroke units at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Maidstone Hospital, and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford – is the one that will best deliver the necessary improvements to care for stroke patients.”

Further proposals are being considered to move services to east Kent’s urgent, emergency and acute medical care -including A&E departments – specialist care, and planned inpatient orthopaedic care (such as hip and knee operations).

Commissioners are also discussing whether to move maternity and children’s inpatient services. The options being discussed are a new hospital in Canterbury or a larger A&E at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, or an expanded A&E at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM), with inpatient care.

Kent and Canterbury Hospital would provide diagnostics (such as X-ray and CT scans), day treatments and surgery, some routine planned inpatient surgery, outpatient appointments and rehabilitation.

Urgent Treatment Centres treating illnesses and injuries which are not 999 emergencies, in all three hospitals.

Join Hands For Our Hospital

The Join Hands For Our Hospital event will take place at 11am on Saturday (August 3), outside the Ramsgate Road entrance of QEQM hospital.

For more information email saveourNHSkent@gmail.com or see the SONIK Facebook page.