Campaigners have applauded a call for the resignation of a hospitals’ boss over what is feared to be the downgrading of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Trust chief executive Matthew Kershaw was asked to step down at the end of a stormy public meeting during which he was unable to offer any reassurances about its future as an acute site.
From today, emergency heart and stroke patients will no longer be taken to the K&C because most of the hospital’s junior doctors have been moved to Ashford as there are insufficient consultants to supervise them at Canterbury.
Underfire Mr Kershaw insisted the K&C would not close and said it had a “vibrant future”, but he admitted that acute care could only return if Health Education England deemed it was safe to do so.
The call for his resignation came from the chairman of Concern for Health in East Kent (Chek), Ken Rogers.
He said: "I’m angry we are in this current diabolical situation and that we have to fight to collect money for a service that is owned by you.
"I’m angry about the services that have drifted away from the K&C in the last 10 years and this temporary move of acute care was not consulted on.
"I believe from Monday that we will have the poorest care in east Kent since the opening of the K&C 80 years ago."
He said: "Unfortunately, I will get personal and ask for Mr Kershaw’s resignation and I ask for it now."
It drew rapturous applause and cheering from the 300 supporters of the K&C who packed the public meeting at the Canterbury Academy on Friday night.
Among them were patients and staff, past and present who rounded on hospital trust’s bosses planning a radical shake up in services as part of a Kent-wide health sustainability and transformation plan.
The plans indicate new roles of east Kent three main hospital sites in Margate, Canterbury and Ashford.
It is widely suspected that the latter will become the new centre for all specialities and the K&C will be used for elective surgery, like orthopaedics and minor injuries.
But Mr Kershaw said “very complex” work about the proposed new arrangements was still on-going and the trust would not be in a position to put its plans out to public consultation until next year.
He said the problem facing acute care at Canterbury was the lack of consultants to supervise junior doctors which the HEE had deemed unsafe.
"We are advertising and have had some success but it is challenging," he said.
He said the changes would only affect about 40 patients of the 120 who attend the urgent care centre every day.
He explained the longer term need for change was to meet the demand of huge advances in medical treatment which now involved specialist teams.
"There simply aren’t enough doctors to work in these specialist teams and each hospital can’t have all of those specialist doctors.
"Our rotas are incredible demanding and have stretched too many of our doctors across too many hospitals."
The meeting was also attended by newly-elected Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield who said that she and Faversham MP Helen Whately were burying their political differences to work together for the future of the Kent and Canterbury.
Mrs Whately is campaigning for a new medical school in Canterbury which is said to have the support of both city universities.
There was further applause when she said she had secured one of the first amendment debates of the new Government about hospital care in east Kent in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon.