Published: 00:01, 12 February 2019
The future of vital stroke services at QEQM hospital will be decided this week in plans for a major health overhaul in Kent.
Leading doctors meet on Thursday in a critical meeting for Margate's hospital as they vote on proposals to halve stroke support centres throughout the county.
The NHS plans to reduce Kent's six stroke facilities to just three with QEQM earmarked to lose its department alongside Medway Maritime Hospital and Pembury Hospital.
The review suggests opening three hyper acute stroke units in Dartford, Maidstone and Ashford.
But health campaigners say patients in Thanet will be put at risk with journey times of more than an hour or 40 minutes even in an ambulance.
The second strand of the campaign is focussing on proposals to reduce A&E departments with plans to create one 'super A&E' in east Kent.
NHS plans say this is likely to be housed at either the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford or the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Save Our NHS in Kent (Sonik) are preparing two events to fight the stroke review plans and further proposed closures to QEQM's accident and emergency department.
The first will come ahead of the crunch meeting of Kent's joint committee of clinical commissioning groups in Maidstone - at the Hilton in Bearsted Road from 1pm.
Carly Jeffrey, a Sonik member from Margate, said: "Stroke sufferers in Thanet will have to travel over an hour to Ashford for treatment, on top of 40 minutes for ambulance delays for 10% of patients.
"This is absolutely unsafe as stroke requires the most urgent attention.
"We must make these GPs understand the dangerous consequences of their decision for the people of Thanet.
"This is why SONIK is planning a dramatic special event to coincide with the meeting."
Should the plans be approved by the committee, campaigners will lobby county councillors to refer the plans to the health secretary for an independent review at Kent County Council's next health committee meeting on March 1.
At the weekend, the campaigners will be hosting a second event to come up with ways to convince health bosses to rethink their strategy.
Sonik is calling for as many people to attend the meeting on Saturday lunchtime in Margate to save the emergency department at QEQM.
Dr Coral Jones, who will speak at the meeting, said: "Clinical commissioners have already targeted QEQM’s stroke unit.
"Now they have our accident and emergency department in their sights.
"This means people in Thanet in need of emergency care will face unacceptable journey times to another hospital.
"Lives will be put at risk, people will die.
"We cannot allow this to happen. And the only way we can stop it is through people power."
The meeting will take place on Saturday from 1pm at Margate Methodist Church Hall in Union Crescent.