An NHS report examining the future of health services in Kent has been published today (Friday).
The report, commissioned by the Clinical Commissioning Groups, highlighted significant dissatisfaction among residents with the choices on offer.
The shortlist of potential locations for specialist stroke services excluded both Canterbury and Margate, leaving Thanet residents potentially an hour away from life-saving treatment.
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The shortlist, which is subject to further assessment and final approval is:
- Darent Valley Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
- Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
- Maidstone Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
- Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Medway Maritime Hospital, William Harvey Hospital
- Darent Valley Hospital, Tunbridge Wells Hospital and William Harvey Hospital
The NHS says hyper acute stroke units will reduce deaths as each will have a multi-disciplinary team of specialist stroke clinicians, seven days a week caring for patients in the critical first 72 hours.
However, campaigners argue that the NHS has a duty to provide equal care to residents across the county and locating the stroke unit in Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital puts east Kent residents at a disadvantage.
Of over 5,000 respondents to the consultation, many expressed a desire for Kent & Canterbury Hospital or the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital to be re-considered as one of the proposed sites.
Residents argued the potential new hospital in Canterbury should feed into the decision. The current proposal would mean stroke services being moved a second time if the rebuild goes ahead – potentially at significant additional expense to the taxpayer.
Director of Acute Care for Kent and Medway STP Patricia Davies said: “We would like to thank the thousands of people who took the time to contribute to the consultation.
“We should stress that no decisions have been taken at this point. As the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups, we have reviewed the reports at a meeting yesterday (28 June 2018); and will be looking at the responses in more detail in the coming months as part of developing a preferred option.
The process and timetable for reaching a preferred option is:
- Summer to early autumn: consideration of the consultation responses and establishing whether any viable additional options have been put forward to evaluate in detail, agreeing the approach to the evaluation of the shortlisted options, meeting with the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, evaluation workshops.
- Autumn: identifying a preferred option, development of the ‘decision making business case’, including discussion with the South East Clinical Senate, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
- Winter: final assurance process with NHS England and NHS Improvement, and the Joint Committee of CCGs meeting to agree the preferred option for implementation.
Ken Rogers of the health campaign group CHEK said: “the vital reorganisation of health services across the county is being held up while a decision is reached on the future of the Kent & Canterbury.
“Canterbury is in the centre of east Kent and has the best connections by car, bus and train. It makes complete sense that the stroke services are located here, supported by the new hospital Canterbury desperately needs.”
A further public consultation into acute services and the future of the Kent & Canterbury has been delayed until the start 2019.