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Consultation document on hospital's future 'deceptive'

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CAMPAIGNERS have said the consultation document on the future of Kent and Canterbury Hospital is a betrayal of all the people that the trust claims to serve. They describe it as fatuous and deceptive and say it offers no solutions, no credible rationale, no genuine choices and no hope.

David Shortt, chairman of the campaigning group Concern for Health in East Kent (CHEK) said the document's statement that all east Kent would be within a 30-minute blue light journey was not true. "The East Kent Health Authority's own research states that only 88 per cent of ambulances would reach the Queen Mother (Margate) or William Harvey (Ashford) hospitals in 30 minutes," he said. "And we have good reason to believe that these statistics were massaged in any case."

The consultation on the future of Kent and Canterbury is being carried out by the East Kent Health Authority in partnership with the East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust.

Mr Shortt said almost a million extra journey miles a year would have to be made on east Kent's congested roads for the half of accident and emergency patients who would, under any of the options, have to travel to Ashford or Margate for treatment.

This does not include visiting relatives or return visits. For non-blue light traffic, such as returning ambulances, patients and relatives, more than half of east Kent is outside the 70-minute band.

"In the A/E and heart attacks sections the document states that the extra distance that would need to be travelled would make no difference in almost all cases," Mr Shortt said. "This is an outright acknowledgement that it would make a difference in some cases. How many lives is an acceptable price worth paying for this plan?"

Mr Shortt added: "Statements about cancer services are cruelly deceptive. Under these options, teams would be split up and a patient might have surgery at the Queen Mother hospital, chemotherapy at Maidstone and radiotherapy at Kent and Canterbury."

He said many of the trust's arguments were spurious. The Queen Mother and William Harvey hospitals would not be similar, as the trust said, as Margate was just to get more beds. Most of the specialities were going to Ashford or were leaving east Kent altogether.

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