Kent Ambulance with stroke advice on side

Stroke Unit Decision – Tories should be ashamed

The decision to close the stroke unit at QEQM in Margate in favour of three HASUs (Hyper Acute Stroke Units) sited in Dartford, Maidstone and Ashford is a slap in the face for Thanet residents. This is an undemocratic decision as the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) are not listening to the concerns of many thousands of Thanet people. There will be an adverse impact on stroke sufferers in Thanet if this decision goes ahead. The CCGs have failed to listen to the voice of so many worried and concerned Thanet residents. 

We collected almost 6000 signatures from those who do not want to lose the stroke unit service. 

I’m concerned for the patients on the Fordwich Ward at QEQM many of whom are fragile and need a great deal of care and reassurance. I can’t see how they will manage the journey to either The Darent Valley or elsewhere. 

I’m concerned that staff will also be negatively impacted. Even if they are offered jobs at the other locations, it’s a great deal of travel. 

It will be an outrage to lose these talented, committed and well trained staff from our Hospital. 

This act will cause an already distrustful relationship between Thanet people and commissioners to worsen.  I urge the commissioners to get around the table to have more discussions. The wishes of locals must be taken fully into account as part of the DMBC – the decision making business case. Failing that we must call for a Judicial review.

BBC Radio Kent Breakfast Show

This morning I mentioned in an interview that I have written to Thanet’s Conservative MPs, Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay about the decision which Labour opposes. I went on to argue that treatment for a stroke cannot properly be administered during the extended ambulance journey as there are different types of stroke. Although I believe in the increased benefits of hyper acute stroke units, travelling over an hour to hospital after a stroke is dangerous. Add to that the reports I hear of longer waiting times for ambulances in Thanet  and we have a critical situation.

Roger Gale shows support for stroke unit closure at QEQM

So far there is no response from Craig Mackinlay, here is Roger’s press statement. 

If you are one of Roger Gales constituents you might be interested in this. Please do write to him and let him know what you think. 

18 September, 2018

Sir Roger Gale MP (N. Thanet) – Stroke Services – East Kent

I believe that the distribution of all health services should be made on the basis of sound medical judgement and not upon emotion or party-political interest.

I have discussed the location of services with those who are expert in the subject on a number of occasions – most recently a week ago – and I am satisfied that, given the planned safeguards, the decision taken and based upon three Centres of Excellence is the best practicable solution to provide the best patient survival and recovery rates – and that is what matters.

Ordinarily a population of the size of Kent would be served by one or possibly two “hyper” centres but the geography of the County mitigates in favour of three in the selected locations.

I know that people would like to have services on the doorstep but it is neither practicable nor possible to fund and staff everything everywhere. Notwithstanding the widely misinterpreted ‘FAST’ mantra what matters is that following diagnosis a patient is taken to the best possibly facility swiftly. Following stabilisation and expert treatment it is then necessary – and this is the safeguard- to re-patriate the patient to a facility (the QEQM or The Queen Vic in Herne Bay in the case of North Thanet) where family and friends can support recovery.

I understand that this will not be a popular decision but good medical practice is not about populist campaigning but about making the right and sometimes hard choices in the interests of saving lives.

In the case of stroke services, I am convinced that not only will more lives be saved but more and fuller recoveries will be made as a result of a decision that is not about ‘saving money’ – massive investment will be made in staff and equipment – but about delivering the best treatment in the best way for the maximum number of people. Time and experience will, I believe, justify this decision.