A public consultation on the future of accident and emergency services in east Kent hospitals has been postponed.
It will now not take place until at least 2019, leaving hospital users in the dark about the future of health in the area.
Campaign group Concern for Health in East Kent (Chek) has described the delay as “unacceptable” and is calling for more urgent discussion of plans.
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It warns that such a situation negatively affects patients and hospital staff.
All sorts of propositions around the future of accident and emergency have surfaced. One involved the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford becoming the major site for the whole of the East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust.
The QEQM at Margate would also have an A&E while the Kent and Canterbury would contain a unit run by GPs.
This plan enraged hospital users in Canterbury.
Last year developer Mark Quinn of Quinn Estates suggested that he could build a brand new hospital as part of wider development plans which include 2,000 homes.
The Clinical Commissioning Groups overseeing hospital reorganisation in east Kent say the postponement is necessary in order to ensure that all the preparatory work is done ahead of the full consultation.
It wants a “shortlist of established proposals” to go before the public, but warned that lots of work would need to take place before that could be done.
The failure to come up with a workable plan for the hospitals in east Kent was seen as a major reason the trust’s former chief executive Matthew Kershaw resigned in September of last year.
Emergency care nurse Jacky Moskovits was fired by the trust in November after she took to social media to announce “the D***HEAD has left the building” following Mr Kershaw’s departure. Ms Moskovits had complained bitterly about plans for the hospitals and working conditions inside the trust.