Published: 13:54, 20 February 2021
| Updated: 10:22, 22 February 2021
Building a new super hospital in Canterbury will result in more patients deaths, health campaigners have said.
Plans are on the table to build the state-of-the-art facility on farmland next to the rundown Kent & Canterbury site to help "revolutionise healthcare" in east Kent.
The five-storey brick building would have an emergency unit for the whole of east Kent, alongside specialist services for heart and stroke care centralised in the city.
It is one of two options on the table, which have been delayed due to the pandemic, and would cost the NHS around £400 million.
Developers Quinn Estates would build the shell of the hospital for free as part of a wider housing development of 2,000 homes on surrounding land, with the NHS having to find the money to equip it.
A&E departments at Ashford's William Harvey and the QEQM in Margate would be downgraded to urgent treatment centres, but locals would still use the hospitals for the majority of their care.
The alternative would see all major services centralised at the William Harvey in Ashford, with Margate's A&E unit expanded and the K&C downgraded to a hospital specialising in diagnostics and routine planned surgery.
But health campaigners from Save Our NHS in Kent (SONIK) have slammed the plans, claiming if health services are centralised it will result in many extra deaths every year.
Spokesman Carly Jeffery said: “This new image is just an attempt to dazzle us with a pretty looking mock-up of a new building while ignoring the grave implications of cutting the A&E, consultant-led maternity and stroke units at both Ashford and Margate.”
She added: “Studies show that unnecessary deaths result when health facilities are moved further away from where people live. Thanet is a severely deprived area, and as a result has poorer health and fewer people with access to a car.
"The road network is poor in east Kent, and therefore centralising all these life-saving services in just one hospital is dangerous and will lead to worse outcomes.
'Plans are not comparable to an A&E.'
“Urgent treatment centres, which will replace full A&E at Margate and Ashford are GP-led, meaning that there are no consultants on hand.
"Most of the medics will be below GP level and there will be a lack of specialists to treat people. It would be like going to a GP surgery in an emergency, but one with only one doctor available. They are not comparable to an A&E."
Ms Jeffery added Canterbury hospital needs upgraded buildings and better services, but "not at the expense of neighbouring areas".
She added: "Thanet, Ashford and Canterbury all need an A&E within a reasonable distance, and they all need their local hospitals to thrive and not be downgraded to cottage hospitals.”
The new hospital would be built on council-owned land at Ridlands Farm, once earmarked for a new 1,000-seater stadium for Canterbury City Football Club.
Quinn Estates would fund construction of the shell of the hospital - at a cost of about £150 million - ahead of 2,000 homes being built on land stretching round to Canterbury Rugby Club.
There would be multiple access routes into the site of the new hospital, the main one being via a new roundabout off Nackington Road.
A new distributor road - built as part of the Mountfield Park development - would connect this roundabout on one side with a new junction on the A2 at the top of New Dover Road, and on the other side to Hollow Lane in Wincheap.
The new hospital building would be owned by the NHS, with the current K&C site forming no part of the development plans.