Crowd of 300 ‘Join Hands For Our Hospital’ in Margate demonstration

The demonstration Photo Frank Leppard

Some 300 people turned out to join a “Join Hands For Our Hospital’ demonstration today (August 3) outside the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

The event was organised by campaign group Save Our NHS in Kent (SONIK) in protest the proposed removal of services — including Thanet’s acute stroke unit — from the hospital.

Photo Alan Chapman

Join Hands For Our Hospital is the latest event in the campaign by SONIK to retain services in Thanet. The group is also mounting a judicial review of the decision to reduce the number of hospitals offering acute stroke services in Kent and Medway in favour of three specialised hyper-acute units.

Photo Frank Leppard

The NHS in Kent and Medway say the hyper acute stroke unit proposals are supported by local, regional and national specialists, including the four hospital trusts and the senior stroke consultants in Kent and Medway.

They say the review into the changes took into account population growth, deprivation, travel times to potential hyper acute stroke units, and impact on specialist stroke staff.

Photo Frank Leppard

In a recent statement they added: “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).

Cllr Gregory at the demonstration

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.

Photo Alan Chapman

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.

Prior to the event at the Ramsgate Road hospital site SONIK spekesperson Carly Jeffrey 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.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Speakers included Cllr Candy Gregory, doctor Coral Jones and Carly Jeffrey. Donna Garfield, who is a new member pf SONIK, talked about how she became involved in the campaign and is now one of the key organisers.

People attended from Thanet, Canterbury, Ashford, Folkestone and Deal.

Campaigners then walked from Margate hospital to the High Street and finished up at the Market Square.

Photo Frank Leppard

Kent County Councillor Karen Constantine,  Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee member and former head of maternity for the South of England at the Royal College of Midwives, said questions she has raised over the possible early closure of Thanet’s acute stroke unit are yet to b answered.

Find out more about SONIK here

Find Kent and Medway NHS here


  1. Whilst we are being told to be aware of emissions we are being sent all over Kent for treatment, crazy. People do not want to be sent to hospital all over Kent for treatment, I for one cannot get to these hospital out of the area, if you arrange hospital transport you end up spending all day for a 5 minute appointment, wish the powers that be would wake up to these problems they are getting paid to create, my motto is if its not broke not fix it

    • But it is broken. A&E one of the worst in the country and stroke services poorly rated.
      If you have a serious stroke and need treatment at a HASU transport will be provided in the form of an ambulance.
      Patients will then be transferred back to a hospital nearer home when they are recovering.

      • There’s no point in taking people miles for exemplary stroke treatment if it takes so long to get them there that they’re more or less dead by the time they get there.

      • And why Seaside lover is it allegedly one of the worst in the country (evidence)? The EKHT has burdened Margate with all of Canterbury’s A&E needs, not provided additional funding or space for treatment. It is understaffed. Patients who should be lying on a trolley bed are left sitting in chairs all night sometimes because they don’t have enough of these beds. This is all to do with the Trusts appalling management of the situation, not the A&E unit. Wise-up Seaside lover and work out why this is happening. Clue US Privatised health system coming to the UK very soon indeed much of the privatisation has already happened. Profits before people!. Sick but true.

  2. My name is Peter Lazenby and I’m a reporter for the Morning Star. I’d like to do a story with a photo today for tomorrow’s paper about yesterday’s demonstration. Could someone send me a couple of photos we could use. My e-mail is [email protected]. If you’d like a word I’m on 0771 821 0131. I’ll need the photo by about 3pm, or earlier if possible. Many thanks, and good luck with your campaign. Pete.

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