Response to Cllr Paul Messenger from Save Our NHS in Kent (re Stroke review plans in Kent)

Paul Messenger (PM): I am genuine in my worries that mis info is being put out there possibly scaring badly some elderly Thanet residents that they will ‘die in ambulances’

SONiK: If you had attended any of the listening events in Thanet, you’d know that many elderly people are quite capable of making up their own minds on this, and they will attend these meeting and make very intelligent points. They are angry about this, and possibly they are scared of ‘dying in an ambulance’, but they are certainly not scared of standing up in a hall full of people and putting pertinent questions to the panel.

PM: I’m quite prepared to work with anyone who approaches an issue in a calm evidence based way.

SONiK: Our website site is full of evidence-based responses to the case put by Kent and Medway STP. Have you read any of our briefings or articles?

PM: It is fact that Hyper Stroke units are superior to existing ‘normal ‘ provisions. It is also fact that SECAmb can deliver patients to WH well under the hour. It is fact that the prescribed clinical advice for ‘call to needle’ is 120 mins.

SONiK: None of the things you quote above are unequivocal facts.

PM: I have had meetings with QEQM staff and James Pavey, Head of operations SECAmb so I’ve done the leg work – and none I repeat none of those shouting and screaming outside the QEQM have even bothered to seek the evidence.

SONiK: That is incorrect. A number of us in SONIK (Save Our NHS in Kent) attended the full presentation (a 3 hour meeting) at County Hall in Maidstone on January 31st where the entire plan was laid out in detail. We have seen all the evidence that the Kent & Medway STP provide, including reading the 151 page document in all its detail. Then we gathered a team of volunteer researchers who have scrutinised the evidence, and found some of it wanting. In addition to that, we have sought out studies that contradict the points made by the STP. We also have a number of doctors in our group who have been working on this with us, and they agree that there are many problems with the arguments made in the stroke review plan. Have you scrutinised the consultation materials at all? Or have you just allowed people on the STP to give you a quick briefing, and then taken all they say as ‘fact’? As an elected representative I really hope you put a little bit more effort in than that.

PM: My only interest is the welfare of Thanet residents not to scare them to bits just to further what is a national ‘underfunding’ agenda you lot are forever campaigning for.

SONiK: I think you are grossly misunderstanding the mood of people here in Thanet. I have spoken to so many people about this issue in Ramsgate, and none of them need any prompting in their reaction to this plan – it is very rare that you meet someone who thinks that being taken to Ashford in an emergency situation with a time sensitive and very serious condition like stroke is a good idea. When this was proposed in London, it was stipulated in the plans that all patients must be able to reach a HASU (Hyper Acute Stroke Unit) within 30 minutes. In South Yorkshire, it was stipulated that all patients must be able to reach a HASU within the ‘critical time’ of 45 minutes. And now in Thanet, we are told an hour will be alright.

PM: We are very lucky to have a fantastic hospital for Thanet and the staff work incredibly hard there for us. And to look out their windows on a weekly basis and see demonstration after demonstration inferring the service is not up to scratch must be so demoralising for them.

SONiK: The staff at QEQM hospital are demoralised by the consultation materials and videos that imply people are left waiting for 3 hours in A&E when they have a stroke. We know from people on the ground that patients go straight through to the stroke unit. Also, QEQM rates higher than the national average for rapid diagnosis of strokes, and higher than most hospitals in Kent. It is indeed a good hospital.

PM: So yes I’ll work with you if you drop the banners, cut out the megaphones, and realise that all health matters are apolitical.

SONiK: Are you calling on those 400 or so people who gathered on Feb 24th to stop protesting? Protests are a legitimate way to draw attention to an issue within a democracy: I don’t see why you have a problem with that. If we hadn’t protested we wouldn’t have the amount of members that we now do; we wouldn’t be able to draw people together around this very serious issue. As a councillor who represents us at county level, I don’t think it is very inappropriate of you to place conditions such as ‘drop the banners’ on whether or not you will ‘work with’ members of the public. You are obliged to work with all members of the public. You say ‘all health matters are apolitical’ – where did you get that idea? The NHS will always be political as long as it’s paid for with taxpayers’ money. When people pay their NI contributions and then find they’re getting a raw deal, they will make their concerns felt, and you should not seek to quash that response.

Carly Jeffrey

Save Our NHS in Kent

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