Dear Matt Hancock

As Thanet residents and residents of Kent we are asking you to save the stroke unit at QEQM Hospital (Margate) and not cut the number of stroke units in the county by half. 

We do not think that people in the deprived area of Thanet, with already poor health, should have to travel a one hour (minimum) journey by ambulance when suffering a stroke. Stroke is a highly time sensitive condition that kills or leaves patients seriously disabled and often dependent on full-time care.

At the onset of a stroke, every second counts. Patients need to be seen as quickly as possible. Until recently Thanet’s 150,000 residents could reach an acute stroke care unit within a 10-15 minute drive; once the Kent & Medway stroke plans are implemented it will be a ONE HOUR journey on bad roads. If ambulance response time, loading and hospital admission are taken into account, it could be a total wait of nearly two hours from Thanet to Ashford.

Patients in Greater London have an average journey time of approximately 18 minutes; all journeys to a HASU are less than 30 minutes in the capital. 
Kent and Medway’s six stroke units should NOT be cut by half to just three. 

All densely populated areas of the county should have access to acute stroke care within a maximum journey time of 30 minutes. That means the proposed three HASUs are not enough, and the current reconfiguration plans must be scrapped.

We call on you to: 
1. Read Save Our NHS in Kent’s Stroke Report, which can be downloaded

2. Scrap the plans in order to stop the closures from going ahead. The decision is now in your hands, the plans were referred back to you by local government and the ball is in your court. We are all waiting for your decision following the IRP’s review. You are duty bound to act on that report, and to make a decision based on the merits of the Kent & Medway stroke plans. Yourself and the Prime Minister have committed to growing, not cutting the NHS – so please scrap these unnecessary and dangerous closures.

We also ask you to take note of these key points:

A) The clinical studies quoted by NHS bosses to support the cuts, if read in full, actually undermine their case.

B) According to local NHS bosses, the main driver for these cuts is a lack of trained staff, but we have revealed that East Kent Hospitals have done the bare minimum to attract the staff needed.

C) These plans have been evangelised as an improvement to stroke care, but there will be no real change in the service aside from differently organised care, which could be implemented in situ. The introduction of Mechanical Thrombectomy is not included in the current plans – despite the public and politicians being given the impression that it would.

D) Studies show that closures of emergency and acute care units lead to an increase in mortality –

E) The claims about poor stroke performance at QEQM are based on a manipulation of the data.

F) The proposals do nothing about prevention or rehabilitation of stroke. Public Health experts (KHPO) have pointed out that the money would be better spent on prevention rather than this costly reconfiguration.

Locals have made their opinion abundantly clear – WE DO NOT ACCEPT THAT OUR STROKE UNITS WILL BE CLOSED! 

Save Our NHS in Kent (SONiK) on behalf of the residents of Thanet, Kent and Medway