Published: 09:37, 31 July 2018
| Updated: 09:40, 31 July 2018
MP Craig Mackinlay has been accused of “failing people at risk of stroke in his constituency”.
Labour parliamentary candidate Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who will fight the South Thanet seat at the next election, has criticised the MP because she says he has failed to raise in Parliament the threatened closure of the stroke unit at Margate’s QEQM Hospital.
If a plan for three hyper-acute stroke services across Kent goes ahead it would see the closure of the service at QEQM, against which campaigners have protested tirelessly.
Dr Gordon-Nesbitt said: “The ending of stroke services in Thanet would mean that people would have to travel to a hospital in Ashford almost 40 miles away.
“The option of retaining stroke services in Thanet wasn’t included in the recent NHS consultation – which is in itself an outrage and makes a mockery of the consultation process.
“If the closure goes ahead, Thanet will be among the very few places in the UK more than an hour away from a stroke unit.
“Clinical evidence has shown this will mean less chance of a good outcome.
“Does Craig Mackinlay really think people’s lives in Thanet count for less than those in the rest of the country?”
Vocal health campaign group Save Our NHS in Kent (Sonik), of which Dr Gordon-Nesbitt is a member, is calling on the MP to raise the threatened closure of the stroke unit in Parliament.
“Sonik has put together a 40-page dossier showing that NHS bosses have not presented nearly enough evidence to justify this radical change to our local health service,” she said.
“This has been sent to Craig Mackinlay, but he’s still sitting on his hands. He is doing nothing to fight the planned closure.”
Mr Mackinlay has defended his actions, saying he wants what is best for Thanet.
He said: “I’m fighting for QEQM to maintain as broad a spectrum of full range services, and full A&E, and have no fears that this will be the settled future given Thanet’s geographical location.”
“I have met with senior officials of Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group in an extended one-to-one meeting covering all aspects of health provision in Thanet, and stroke services formed a large part of our discussions.
“My firm belief has always been – and remains – that professional clinicians have a greater understanding of stroke diagnosis and treatment than politicians or political activists.
“I obviously would want, in an ideal world, a hyper-acute stroke unit at QEQM.
“What I don’t want is a second division stroke service just to satisfy a doctrine of ‘everything, everywhere’ with poorer outcomes.
“People in Thanet deserve the best cutting-edge treatment across the spectrum.
“To this end, the joint committee of the CCG intend to advance their preferred option for implementation this winter.
“As they do, I’m liaising closely with our local NHS, MP Sir Roger Gale, and local action groups throughout.”
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