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Health chief refuses to back campaign for stroke unit in Medway

By Dean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

Health officials have refused to support a campaign to have a new hyper acute stroke unit located in Medway.

Medway Maritime Hospital was not among the sites included in the “preferred option” for a trio of specialist stroke units in Kent.

The Kent and Medway Stroke Review instead launched a consultation on locating the 24/7 departments at hospitals in Dartford, Maidstone and Ashford.

Councillors on Medway Council's health and wellbeing board supported a motion calling for the council “to continue to press” for a re-think of the shake-up of stroke services in the county yesterday.

But NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s chief operating officer Stuart Jeffery voted against, while the group’s clinical chair Dr Peter Green abstained.

Mr Jeffery told members: “We believe the right processes have been gone through, the right evidence base has been assessed, and the configuration is going to be better for Kent and Medway.”

Medway Maritime Hospital
Medway Maritime Hospital

It was suggested the CCG is “bound” by previous statements made about the decision, but councillors were quick to express their “real disappointment”.

Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con) said: “You’ve got to understand the depth of feeling and anger from the people of Medway, and I think you should reconsider and back us on this one.”

Medway Council deputy leader Cllr Howard Doe (Con) said the authority has submitted a second Freedom of Information request to get more information about how the decision was made.

NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s chief operating officer Stuart Jeffery
NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s chief operating officer Stuart Jeffery

He added: “This is regarded in some quarters as almost a done deal. As far as we’re concerned, we’re going to fight this and it’s going to go the distance.”

Cllr Vince Maple (Lab) concluded: “This is not about standing up for Medway for the sake of standing up for Medway.

“I will always try and work from an evidence base, and I accept occasionally a centre of excellence may not be appropriate to be in Medway – but that is not the case here.”

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