Campaigners fear plans to open a major trauma unit in Ashford will lead to a reduction of services at the QEQM in Margate

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Health chiefs have denied claims they are planning to downgrade accident and emergency services, branding it “utter nonsense”.

It follows the launch of a campaign by activists accusing East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust of seeking to reduce major trauma services at the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital in Margate.

They claim hospital bosses are planning to transfer major trauma services from Margate to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, meaning seriously injured or sick patients having to travel 30 miles to access emergency treatment.

But the NHS argued that the majority of such patients were not treated in Margate anyway and were currently sent to hospitals in London.

A spokesman for the hospital trust said: “Kent Trauma Unit is looking to open three specialist units in Kent, at the William Harvey, Medway Maritime and Pembury – this will make it better for trauma patients as instead of having to travel all the way to London they can go to places in Kent.

“This does not mean services in Margate will be reduced. It’s nonsense.

“We don’t have all specialist services in Margate. You can’t have every specialist unit in every hospital. For example, there is a specialist robot used to operate on prostate cancer in Canterbury and a specialist heart unit in Margate, and so patients travel to either hospital when needed.

“Taking patients to a major trauma unit in Ashford will mean they won’t have to go all the way to London. This is a good thing.”

But campaigners said they believe the changes could lead to a downgrading of services.

Thanet district councillor Ian Driver said there was massive support for local accident and emergency services.

“The plans don’t make sense to me. I can’t see how the long journey to Ashford will save lives,” he said.

“Campaigners are planning to hold public meetings over the next few weeks to discuss the plans.

“This is an extremely serious issue, it will impact on every man, woman and child in Thanet,”

Protesters said they are meeting with the hospital trust’s chief executive Stuart Bain to discuss the plans in greater detail.

A public consultation on the plans is due to take place later this year.

More than 5,000 people have joined a Facebook group call for local accident and emergency services to be saved.

1 comment

  • From what I have read, it seems only trauma patients will be sent to Ashford and QEQM will remain with the present A&E services. We can only put our trust in the powers that be and hope that somewhere down the line they do not welsh on their promises. I shall keep careful note of the public meetings.

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    Kate O'Connor

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

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