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Ashford MP Damian Green speaks out on NHS plans to move William Harvery high risk surgery to Canterbury

Ashford MP Damian Green
Ashford MP Damian Green

Ashford's MP says that he would prefer that operations remain in Ashford, after plans to move high risk surgery to Canterbury were announced.

Health chiefs announced on Monday an urgent re-organisation of its general surgery to concentrate high-risk and emergency procedures at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, instead of Ashford’s William Harvey hospital and the QEQM hospital in Margate.

The East Kent Hospitals Trust says it is taking action because it will not have enough specialist gastro-intestinal surgeons to provide emergency cover, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MP Damian Green says that he is meeting with NHS bosses to discuss the move.

But the government minister for policing added that patient safety should be paramount to any final decisions.

He said: “I’ve been speaking to the senior management at the hospital to find out if this decision, described as an interim solution, is a temporary decision or a permanent one.

“The trust needs to recruit new surgeons so hopefully, as this happens over time, they can revisit this decision.

“I would of course prefer to see that the surgical procedures that are currently taking place in Ashford remain here.

The hospital has apologised to Lena
The hospital has apologised to Lena

“But I feel it is better to have a safe operation taking place in Canterbury, than for a potentially less safe operation to be happening in Ashford.

“I will be meeting with Stuart Bain and the trust, and will be discussing the matter in more detail.”

Just seven of the 16 surgeons performing the operations – at the William Harvey hospital and the QEQM – are permanently employed by the NHS.

There are between 1,000 and 1,500 high-risk procedures a year but the routine, low-risk work will continue in Ashford and Thanet.

The crisis has been aggravated by the imminent retirements of two of its most experienced consultants and the loss of another surgeon who is moving abroad.

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