A second application for right to appeal against a ruling to reject a Judicial Review on changes to stroke services in Kent and Medway is yet to be considered, it has emerged.
But a second application led by resident Marion Kepple for the Thanet Stroke Campaign is still to be considered by the Court of Appeal.
A judicial review hearing challenging the decision to close acute stroke services in hospitals including Margate’s QEQM was lost in February this year.
Two Thanet groups, Save Our NHS in Kent and Thanet Stroke Campaign, took a case to the High Court – alongside Medway Council- to fight the decision made by a Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (JCCCG) to remove acute services from six hospitals in favour of three specialised units for Kent and Medway.
The cases were heard together by Judge Judith Farbey although they were brought on behalf of separate claimants.
A decision on the location for three hyper-acute stroke units (HASUs) across Kent & Medway was agreed by the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups (JCCCG) in February 2019.
The HASUs will be at Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital. Acute services at Margate’s QEQM Hospital will be removed with Thanet patients needing to travel to Ashford instead.
SONIK and Thanet resident Marion Kepple, who was the claimant for the Thanet Stroke Campaign backed by Cllr Karen Constantine and Summer Kitchen boss Sharon Goodyer, had challenged that decision, as did Medway Council.
The Court of Appeal has refused permission for an appeal against the judicial review ruling, but only for the Medway Council case.
Cllr Constantine said: “I was obviously extremely disappointed and concerned that it appeared our application for an appeal was turned down.
“The appeal made by Medway Council has been refused, but our application, led by community champion Marion Kepple, is still to be determined by the Court of Appeal.
“Our application for permission to appeal has not yet been considered. The legal team at Irwin Mitchell submitted the application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal in March 2020, we are now waiting to see if we have been successful. “
Carly Jeffrey of SONIK said yesterday that the campaign group had also approached its legal team with an intention to appeal but were advised barristers would not take on the action. The group said they did not publicise this to avoid jeopardising the Medway case or any other case that went forward.
She said: “Three of the grounds had been found arguable by the judge, so we felt it was worth a shot, despite the low odds of winning. Having already been awarded legal aid, it was unlikely that we would have to raise much money. However, our barrister and solicitors were not willing to appeal, and we were informed that trying a new legal team would be unlikely to help.
“Our barrister did not believe an appeal would win. It was also suggested that revealing our inability to appeal might undermine and thus jeopardise the other case (Medway’s).”
The Kent and Medway Stroke Programme is still awaiting the decision from the Secretary of State on the referral for an independent review of the process and says the hope is that this can now be expedited so Hyper Acute and Acute Stroke units can be implemented.
Hyper-acute units plan
The units will be at Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital
The plan is for Darent Valley to have a 34 bed unit, Maidstone General Hospital 38 beds and William Harvey Hospital 52 beds. There will also be a two bed outflow at Eastbourne General Hospital.
The JCCCG expected the hyper-acute units at Darent Valley and Maidstone to go live in March 2020 followed by the William Harvey Hospital in spring 2021. This was then set back t to Darent Valley Hospital and Maidstone Hospital to open in April 2021 and the William Harvey Hospital to open in autumn of 2022.
Currently for east Kent there are 24 stroke beds at WHH, 22 at QEQM and 24 at K&CH.
The new units are expected to reduce financial deficits in the Kent and Medway service, although a review of those finances will take place.