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Hospital shake-up across east Kent for William Harvey, Kent & Canterbury and QEQM

Two hospitals in east Kent could lose both of their A&E and maternity departments if a state-of-the-art facility is built in Canterbury, it has been confirmed.

Emergency care at the William Harvey in Ashford and QEQM in Margate could become a thing of the past as part of the major shake-up.

The huge reshuffle, however, leaves one other option on the table which includes concentrating most services in Ashford.

If option one is favoured, then A&E departments will remain at Ashford and Margate - while at Canterbury, there will be a 24/7 GP-led Urgent Treatment Centre treating illnesses and injuries which are not 999 emergencies.

In contrast option two, which proposes to build a new super hospital in Canterbury, will see Ashford and Margate completely lose their A&E services.

It would mean there would be a single major emergency centre for east Kent at Canterbury, which would also deal with acute medical care and complex inpatient surgery.

The future of the Kent & Canterbury Hospital has been up in doubt for years
The future of the Kent & Canterbury Hospital has been up in doubt for years

The super hospital plans are all dependent on developer Mark Quinn who has offered to build a facility shell in Canterbury - in exchange for 2,000 homes.

Multi-million pound funding from the NHS would then allow the hospital to be kickstarted, but firstly, planning permission must be granted.

Under that option, it is proposed that day surgery and outpatient appointments would move away from Kent & Canterbury Hospital to other sites.

The William Harvey Hospital could lose its A&E department
The William Harvey Hospital could lose its A&E department

All consultant-led maternity units and inpatient children’s services would go in the opposite direction and relocate to Canterbury.

If option one is preferred, then consultant-led maternity units and children’s inpatient services would continue at the William Harvey and QEQM.

In option one, consultant-led services for frail elderly people would be provided at Ashford and Margate, whereas for option two, the service would head to Canterbury.

It is believed by the NHS that Canterbury's super hospital would not be large enough to cope with day surgery and outpatient appointments.

They would instead be located elsewhere in places such as Estuary View, Whitstable andBuckland Hospital, Dover as well as in the main hospitals in Ashford and Margate.

The two proposals are not yet part of a formal public consultation.It is expected that formal consultation on any proposed changes will take place later next year.

The hopes to either build a new ‘super hospital’ took a “massive step” in the right direction following the meeting with former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last year.

He has since left the role, but following a meeting this week with the new Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, campaigners Helen Whately MP and Cantebury City Council leader Simon Cook were pleased with the outcome.

After the meeting, Mr Hancock said he had taken on board the arguments.

He said: "I’ve listened and heard the case for a new hospital in Canterbury – I appreciate Helen and Simon’s campaigning on this and their view that this will be best for patients."

Canterbury City Council leader Simon Cook, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Faversham MP Helen Whately
Canterbury City Council leader Simon Cook, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Faversham MP Helen Whately

Meanwhile, Mrs Whately further stressed her view of what needs to happen.

She said: “Healthcare in east Kent is not good enough.

"A new hospital in Canterbury, along with the new medical school attracting the best and brightest young doctors, is the best option for patients.

"Improving Canterbury would be a big change from the direction of travel of recent years, but so many doctors have told me this would be best for patients and it’s the patients who will suffer the consequences if we get this wrong."

In order to gain feedback on the two options, there are eight meetings planned across east Kent for members of the public to attend.

For more information on where they will be held and how to register, click here.

Alternatively, email info.eastkent@nhs.net or call 01622 211940 to reserve a place.

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