Happy birthday QEQM and thanks for saving my life!

Liz Shutler at the QEQM 90th birthday event with Cllr Mick Tomlinson and wife Shirley

By Liz Crudgington

A VIP at an event marking the 90th birthday of the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate had extra cause to celebrate – the hospital’s staff saved his life.

The Mayor of Margate, Cllr Mick Tomlinson, spent time on life support in the hospital in 2008, after collapsing on the way to a friend’s house.

He had undergone a triple heart bypass operation the year before at St Thomas’s hospital, and was fitted with a cardiac pacemaker by staff at the QEQM.

Cllr Tomlinson said: “The staff at this hospital have saved many lives, including mine. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here now.

“To be here for the celebrations is a real privilege, and it’s fitting that this is the first official function I have been able to attend since the start of lockdown.”

Guests were able to browse a display about the history of the hospital at the event on Friday, and enjoyed refreshments including birthday cake – all provided in a socially distanced manner.

Jeremy Voizey, chairman of the League of Friends of the QEQM and also president of Margate Rotary Club, said he was doubly proud to be involved. Both organisations helped fund the original hospital.

East Kent Hospitals’ deputy chief executive and director of strategic development, Liz Shutler, spoke about her personal connection to the hospital – she was born there in the first year the maternity department opened, and her mother was accommodation officer during the 1980s.

She outlined some of the changes over the years, including an increase in beds from 54 to more than 400, and in operating theatres from one to 10.

During the Second World War, QEQM became a field hospital and staff cared for British airmen who had been shot down in the Battle of Britain, as well as treating casualties rescued from the beaches in France during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The hospital now offers care to almost 350,000 people each year, and more than 2,500 staff work on site.

Liz said: “The long and critical role the hospital has played in international, national and local history is really wonderful to hear and remember and it is fantastic to celebrate here today.

“The continued role in the provision of hospital care for the people of east Kent endures today as QEQM is central in the Trust’s plans for the future.”

The Trust has an investment programme totalling more than £10million, including refurbishing Fordwich Ward, a new MRI scanner and mobile x-ray machine, new staff rooms and facilities, and investing in technology to enable remote outpatient appointments.

Cheerful Sparrows Ward has also recently been upgraded to take intensive care patients.

Liz added: “During the coronavirus pandemic I have been the lead Executive team member for QEQM. It has really reminded me of the special place the hospital has in my heart.

“The sense of team is palpable on the site and the pride the staff have for what they do is shown in so many ways.”

The Trust hopes to have a larger celebration with staff, residents and other guests once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.