Published: 11:35, 08 August 2019
| Updated: 11:58, 08 August 2019
Tory politicians are teaming up to convince Boris Johnson to back Canterbury’s super hospital bid.
Anna Firth - a councillor and the new Conservative candidate for the constituency - and Faversham MP Helen Whately say they will be pushing for a crunch-talk meeting with the new prime minister.
Two options are on the table - one to have specialist services and a major trauma unit in Ashford, and the other to centralise east Kent hospital care with a sole A&E centre in Canterbury.
Mrs Firth, selected last week by local Tory members to defeat Labour at the next general election, believes she can persuade Mr Johnson to support option two.
The former barrister said: “I do think I can convince him that Canterbury is the best option.
“It is central in east Kent - it makes perfect sense to have the main hospital here.
“I’m also pushing for £350 million to be allocated by the Treasury for the new hospital.”
“Once we have secured the capital funds, the decision can then be pushed through as the reason for the consultation being stalled is because the money has not yet been allocated.
“This money will speed up the consultation - once that has happened we can prove Canterbury is by far the best option.”
Developer Mark Quinn has offered to build the shell of the hospital in return for permission for 2,000 homes - but more money will be needed to kit it out.
KentOnline reported last month that it could be seven years until the fate of healthcare in east Kent is finalised, with there still being a lengthy process that needs to be followed.
Ashford MP Damian Green has previously stated he is “strongly against” any proposals to move the A&E away from the William Harvey, and will argue the case as “hard as possible” through the consultation period.
But Mrs Firth believes she can eventually get all Kent MPs to pointing in the same direction and back the Canterbury bid.
“I’m confident that once Helen and I have laid out the argument for Canterbury, other MPs will see the logic we are putting forward,” she said.
Boris Johnson revealed this week that the NHS will receive a £1.8 billion cash injection, but no new capital projects in east Kent have been earmarked for funding.
Twenty hospitals will benefit from £850 million of new money, with the other £1 billion used to boost existing programmes across the country and to tackle the most urgent infrastructure projects.
Along with Mrs Firth, Helen Whately MP has sent a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock calling for more money.
“Having a new prime minister is a new opportunity,” she said. “It’s my job to try and convince him. There’s increased determination to get the situation sorted and we must get the capital funding.
“Our local hospitals desperately need investment, so I’m glad to see Boris Johnson make the NHS one of his priorities.
“I’m determined to get Kent its share of the extra £1.8 billion NHS capital funding. I’ve already contacted the health secretary and spoken to the chief executive of East Kent Hospital Trust about the £350 million we need - and why.
“People in East Kent have waited too long for better healthcare. With the medical school on the way, now is the time to sort out our hospitals.”
More by this authorJoe Wright