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Stroke unit: judicial review progress

After amazing support from Thanet residents who wish to keep a stroke unit locally, we raised £5k in days, we were able to begin a formal Judicial Review. This is now at the High Court and we are waiting to hear when it will be heard. We are hopeful that it will be called in September. The client in this case is the rather marvellous Marion Keppel.

Karen Constantine and Marion Keppel, the stroke unit judicial review client
Karen Constantine and Marion Keppel

Stroke unit plans

As your County Councillor I am having on-going meetings with the NHS senior management team. The planning for the two Hyper Acute Stroke Units (HASUs) in Maidstone and Darent Valley will go ahead. The plans for a HASU at William Harvey Hospital are ‘on hold’.

As always if you’re having trouble with appointments let me know. I recently helped one resident to significantly reduce the time he was waiting for an appointment.

I’ve had reason recently to be very close to some health services. I am pleased to report that our NHS staff are blooming marvellous! All of them. So please, despite headlines, and legal battles remember, you are in safe hands in our NHS.
Thank you NHS staff.



High Court Legal Battle Launched Against Closure Of Thanet Stroke Unit

Concerns Raised That Plans Will ‘Devastate’ Local Community

Marion Keppel, a local Ramsgate resident, has launched a High Court legal battle against the closure of a stroke unit in Kent which would leave patients having to travel 40 miles for treatment.

Many local people were devastated at the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (JCCCG) decision to close the acute stroke unit at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate.

Instead a so-called ‘hyper acute stroke unit’ in Ashford – more than an hour away from the Thanet area – would be created.

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have today applied to the High Court for a judicial review to be held into the legality of the decision.

Alex Rook, specialist public lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: “Our client and her supporters are extremely concerned that the decision to close the stroke unit at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital was reached unlawfully. We consider that the CCG’s failed to properly consider the impact of increased travel times to the reconfigured hospital services before making the decision to close this unit.  There has also been a great deal of concern that by the time a public consultation was undertaken, the QEQM was not an option that people could put forward as their preferred outcome, giving the impression that the decision had already been taken.”

“They are undoubtedly worried of the implications the closure could have on the local community and their health, especially for those requiring urgent care as they would face significant delays in their treatment if the nearest vital stroke services are over an hour away.

“Our client feels that she has no option but to seek to challenge the lawfulness of this decision. We call on the joint CCG’s to rethink its proposals and carry out a thorough consultation with residents to find a suitable solution.”

Marion Keppel lives within a 10 minute drive of the QEQM and attends the hospital for most of her medical appointments.

She said: “Due to my complex health needs and status as someone at a high risk of suffering a stroke, I attend hospital regularly.  I am diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and struggle to travel outside of my immediate environment and am known to collapse when I am anxious.

“If the decision goes ahead to close the stroke unit, I – and other local people – will have to travel around 40 miles to the next nearest facility at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.  This will take several hours of travelling on public transport, which I find very difficult.  I will also need the help of a friend or my son to support me in the journey.

“I have no doubt that the decision to close the acute stroke unit at QEQM will have a devastating effect on myself if I suffer from a stroke, and the local community in Thanet as a whole.”

In 2016, Marion’s late husband Robert suffered a stroke and was taken to the acute stroke unit at QEQM for treatment.  He was treated quickly and Marion added: “Doctors said to me at the time that if Robert had attended a hospital further away, it would have resulted in damage to his brain.

“Having a vital support service located an hour away is simply unacceptable and I hope this decision is reconsidered as soon as possible.

Marion is being supported by her County Councillor Karen Constantine.