Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Canterbury and Ashford politicians bid for PM Liz Truss's support over major health shake-up

Campaigners from opposing sides of the east Kent healthcare shake-up are vying for support from the new Prime Minister.

Politicians and residents in Canterbury want No. 10 to back the ‘super hospital’ plan for the city, while those in Ashford are calling for the William Harvey to be upgraded.

How the 'super' hospital planned for Canterbury is set to look
How the 'super' hospital planned for Canterbury is set to look

Local Tory members who met with Liz Truss during her campaign to become the country’s new leader claim she is “supportive” of the vision.

City council leader Ben Fitter-Harding (Con) told KentOnline: “Those who met with Liz tell me she was supportive of the Canterbury proposition.

“I’m encouraged that she is supportive of our ambition to have a new, full-service hospital in Canterbury, where it will be best placed to provide an excellent service to a large area.

“Now that Liz has been successful I look forward to having the opportunity to talk further with her about the importance of funds being released as quickly as possible and Canterbury being selected as the most logical place to invest in healthcare for our region.”

In stark contrast to Cllr Fitter-Harding, Ashford MP Damian Green is adamant No. 10 is yet to have formed an opinion on either of the tabled options.

New PM Liz Truss. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography
New PM Liz Truss. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography

“I have spoken to health ministers about this and it is simply untrue,” he said.

“I will continue to campaign for proper investment in hospitals across east Kent, and to point out that the quickest and most cost-effective way of achieving a good, modern hospital estate in our area is to go for the other option.”

As it stands, two proposals are under consideration for the future of healthcare services in the east of the county.

Option 1 would see all major services centralised at the William Harvey, with Margate’s QEQM A&E unit expanded and the K&C scaled back to a hospital specialising in diagnostics and routine surgery.

Meanwhile, Option 2 would see the construction of a new super hospital on land next to the existing K&C.

If the 'super' hospital were to be built, the William Harvey would lose its A&E
If the 'super' hospital were to be built, the William Harvey would lose its A&E

The five-storey brick building would host a major emergency unit for all of the surrounding districts, with all specialist services such as heart and stroke care centralised in the city.

It would result in the closure of A&E departments at Ashford and Margate, which would both be downgraded to urgent treatment centres.

A timeline for the overhaul of services at the three hospitals is currently unclear - as the process has rumbled on for years.

Health bosses at the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are in the process of assessing the two proposals, before they are put out to public consultation.

Should Option 2 be favoured, developer Quinn Estates has offered to construct the shell of the super hospital in exchange for permission to build 2,000 new homes on neighbouring land.

The two options on the table for east Kent
The two options on the table for east Kent

The site in question, which stretches round to Canterbury Rugby Club, is earmarked for housing in the city council’s Local Plan, its housing blueprint.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust last month put the construction of the so-called £232 million “hospital extension” out to tender.

It states: “The trust is seeking to appoint a developer to design, build and finance a new build extension to the existing Kent and Canterbury Hospital of 60,000 sqm.”

The Department of Health is reviewing the plans for the new hospital.

Officials say they cannot comment on the scheme until they come to a final decision later this year.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More