SONiK Judicial Review to go ahead


It’s been announced that a court will review NHS bosses’ decision to slash the number of hospitals able to offer emergency stroke treatment in Kent. 

The judicial review, mounted by health campaign group Save Our NHS in Kent, (SONiK) will be heard on the first available court dates from September. 

Jon Flaig SONiK chair said: “This is good news and is down to a great community effort.

Ordinary people from across the county raised the £15,000 we needed to contribute to the claimant’s legal aid and start the judicial review process.” 

Jon said the case was a vital one, of huge importance to Kent.

“NHS bosses intend to close three out of the existing six hospital stroke units in Kent, which will greatly increase journey times for the most deprived populations. People in Thanet and the costal towns will be affected the worst. 

He added: “In Thanet ambulance journey time will go up by a staggering 300%, leaving residents a minimum of one hour away from urgent stroke care. Mortality and disability rates are bound to increase.”

But the health campaigners claim NHS plans won’t just affect Thanet.

“This is a definitely a Kent-wide problem. Medway, also a deprived area, will be badly affected, too, and the rest of Kent is likely to suffer due to the pressure on the whole system,” Jon said. 

A key part of SONIK’s case is that Kent needs at least four hyper acute stroke units (HASUs), and one must be in Thanet, to ensure that health inequalities are not exacerbated and all patients reach the care they need within approximately 35 minutes. NHS bosses are planning for only three HASUs in Kent.

Jon said: “Among other things we will argue that Kent’s NHS bosses did not properly consider the option of having more than three HASUs and did not consult properly with the public about their proposals. This is a battle we intend to win for the people of this area.”

Carly Jeffrey, a SONIK spokesperson said: “The evidence suggests the decision to close stroke units in Medway, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells was a foregone conclusion. We believe that the public consultation was a box ticking exercise that was also designed to gloss over the fundamental flaws in the plans.”

Carly added: “There are councillors and medical professionals that have backed up our assessment. This is a national plan that they want to roll out across even more areas – so what is happening in Kent, with these very long journey times, is essentially an experiment”

SONIK banner protest leppardPic by Frank Leppard, August 2019