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Margate: Petition set up in a bid to stop possible closure of the A&E unit at QEQM hospital

By Katie Davis

A petition fighting a proposal which could see the closure of Margate's QEQM A&E department has been set up and signed by more than 1,000 people.

It comes after potential options for how future hospital services might be organised in east Kent were unveiled.

One of the options would see the loss of the A&E units at QEQM and the William Harvey, Ashford, and the creation of a super-hospital in Canterbury, which would be a single major emergency centre for all of east Kent, with one 24/7 A&E and all specialist services at the same hospital.

Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital, Margate

Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital, Margate

The A&E service at QEQM would be reduced to a GP-led urgent treatment centre.

At a meeting yesterday, health commissioners discussed the potential option - but admitted the potential impact on patients had not yet been looked into on the same scale as an alternative proposal.

Raushan Ara, who launched the petition, said: "Save our A&E unit at QEQM, Margate.

"The Accident and Emergency unit at Margate's QEQM hospital has, once again, come under threat from proposed Tory government cuts.

"There is a plan to close A&E units at both Ashford and Margate, and centralise A&E facilities at Canterbury.

"I wholeheartedly oppose this move – as I know that it will create a risk to the lives of
the people who need this vital service.

"The time taken to travel to Canterbury from Thanet or Ashford could mean the difference between life and death to those involved in road accidents, attack victims, elderly people who have suffered falls, domestic violence victims, and various other scenarios, where life may be threatened.

"We need to keep all three hospital A&E units functioning, as they serve a
need in their respective communities.

"I have a special needs son, who has global learning difficulties and severe epilepsy.
When he suffers from epleptic fits, we often have to use the A&E facilities.

"I am sure that there are many others, who are in a similar situation, and need to do
likewise.

"I wholeheartedly oppose this move – as I know that it will create a risk to the lives of
the people who need this vital service..." -Raushan Ara

"Thanet is a coastal area, that survives on hospitality and tourism.

"Without the provision of adequate A&E facilities, this could be severely damaged, and many local people would suffer.

"As such, I have started an online petition, to be sent to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in order to try to enable more funding to be obtained by the three A&E units respectively.

"Local Labour activists have been working closely with CHEK (Concern for Health
in East Kent) in calling for an urgent public meeting, which will be held at Chatham & Clarendon House Grammar School, Chatham Street, on Saturday, December 9 at 10am."

The petition to health minister Jeremy Hunt currently has 1,206 signatures.

Campaigners have also slammed the option, saying it is a 'crazy idea'.

One person who signed the petition said: "It's irresponsible and unsafe to leave an area without an A+E, instead diverting emergencies to another area.

"These services should be supported and upgraded not closed!"

Another wrote: "My partner had to be rushed to A&E. It was very frightening and it could have been so much worse if the ambulance had to go further.

"For all our sakes please keep Margate A&E."

One local said on the petition: "They cannot cope with the numbers of patients using the a&e currently closing it and opening a super one in Canterbury means more people converging in one area overwhelming the system.

"You increase the travel time reducing the golden hour therefore putting patients at high risk"

Another said: "Crazy idea, I had a fall yesterday and ripped my hands open in many places, went independently to A&E after some first aid from my son.

"If I had to go to Canterbury it would have meant an ambulance as i would have needed more treatment on the way.

"As it was Margate A&E had to redress one hand in triage to keep me going until i was called through for cleaning up and wound dressings. A&E did a great job."

However, health chiefs have also said they will consider, as a second option, a different reorganisation of the three east Kent hospitals. 

This would see the William Harvey Hospital as a major emergency centre with a 24/7 A&E department and the centre for specialist service in east Kent.

The QEQM hospital would be the second emergency hospital, with a 24/7 A&E and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital would be a 24/7 GP-led urgent treatment 

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