Health campaigners have petitioned Thanet District Council to support their judicial review of a decision to close the acute stroke unit at hospitals including Margate in favour of three specialist units for Kent and Medway.
Campaign group Save Our NHS In Kent (SONIK) collected more than 1400 signatures on the petition asking TDC to support their judicial review which challenges the decision making to implement the hyper-acute units.
They have also hit their fundraising target of £15,000 to pay for the process through a crowdfunder, fundraising events and donations from organisations and individuals.
The question of supporting the judicial review will be raised at a council meeting on Thursday, September 5 when one of the campaigners will be given three minutes to ask a question.
A spokesperson for SONIK said: “This council has no direct responsibility for the hospital, but they have a huge responsibility for the health and well-being of the people of Thanet. We are asking them to do everything in their power to prevent the closure of our stroke unit — something which will mean a huge blow to the health of the people here.”
Last Saturday SONIK took part in the Pride parade in Margate and campaigners say they were “overwhelmed” by the level of support they received.
The SONIK spokesperson said: “So many people came up to us to express their support and urge us on to fight harder to save the stroke unit. They realise how important is for Thanet to have a stroke unit. They know it’s mad for stroke sufferers here to have to travel to Ashford.
“But most people, too, know this isn’t just a battle for the stroke unit, but for the future of Margate hospital as a whole. If the stroke unit goes, our accident and emergency department will be downgraded and so will our maternity unit. We have to win this battle. It is literally matter of life and death for people in Thanet.
“But our campaign isn’t just about Thanet. We want three excellent hospitals for east Kent – and at least four specialist hyper-acute stroke units in the county.”
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 hyper-acute unit proposal was given the green light in February. It means the nearest unit to Thanet will be at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital. Units at Darent Valley and Maidstone are due to go live in March 2020 followed by WHH in spring 2021.
Changes are also planned 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 to a new hospital in Canterbury and options for moving specialist services to either Canterbury or Ashford.
NHS professions and the East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) say there is a body of evidence that shows specialist services, such as stroke, trauma, vascular and specialist heart services need to be centralised and located together.
The campaigners are calling on members of the public to come and support them at the council meeting which will be on Thursday 5 September at 7pm.
For more information email saveourNHSkent@gmail.com or see the SONIK Facebook page.