Plans to close A&E greeted

Cam­paign­ers fight­ing to keep ser­vice in town

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - William Harvey - By Dan Wright

An­gry health cam­paign­ers say a plan to shut the Wil­liam Har­vey Hos­pi­tal’s A&E unit is “to­tally un­ac­cept­able” – and are call­ing on the town to unite in op­po­si­tion.

NHS bosses are for­mally con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal for a new su­per hos­pi­tal in Can­ter­bury, which could mean Ash­ford’s emer­gency de­part­ment is re­duced to a GPled ur­gent treat­ment cen­tre.

It fol­lows an of­fer from de­vel­oper Mark Quinn to build the shell of a state-of-the-art hos­pi­tal in the cathe­dral city, in re­turn for per­mis­sion to build 2,000 homes on sur­round­ing land.

But po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in Ash­ford say the plan should be thrown out – and the Ken­tish Ex­press has now launched a cam­paign to save the town’s A&E.

Ash­ford MP Damian Green said: “I am strongly against any pro­pos­als to move A&E away from the Wil­liam Har­vey – I think this would be a ter­ri­ble idea.

“We all know that the hos­pi­tal is right next to a mo­tor­way, which in nor­mal times means that am­bu­lances have ideal ac­cess.

“What we should all do is make our views known – we do not want to see any down­grad­ing of the ser­vices of­fered at the Wil­liam Har­vey.”

The Can­ter­bury su­per hos­pi­tal plan is one of two op­tions health com­mis­sion­ers are con­sid­er­ing for east Kent, which cur­rently has the worst A&E wait­ing times in the coun­try de­spite emer­gency mea­sures to tackle the cri­sis.

If the su­per hos­pi­tal is given the green light, Can­ter­bury would be­come the only ma­jor emer­gency cen­tre for all of east Kent, mov­ing the A&Es at Ash­ford and From left, MP Damian Green, and bor­ough coun­cil­lors Paul Bartlett and Gerry Clark­son the QEQM Hos­pi­tal in Mar­gate onto the one site.

But health bosses are also look­ing at a pro­posal to keep the Har­vey as a ma­jor emer­gency cen­tre with a 24/7 A&E de­part­ment, which would make the QEQM the sec­ond emer­gency hos­pi­tal – with 24/7 A&E – and the Kent and Can­ter­bury Hos­pi­tal a GPled ur­gent treat­ment cen­tre.

One of the two emer­gency hos­pi­tals would also be the cen­tre for highly spe­cial­ist ser­vices in east Kent, such as trauma, vas­cu­lar and spe­cial­ist heart ser­vices.

For­mer Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil (ABC) leader Paul Bar- tlett, who rep­re­sents the Weald East ward, says the prospect of los­ing Ash­ford’s A&E is “re­ally not on”.

“I think the first op­tion they are look­ing at, to keep the Har­vey as a ma­jor emer­gency cen­tre, is busi­ness as usual,” he said.

“But the key point is that they will be also con­sid­er­ing clos­ing the A&E and shift­ing it to Can­ter­bury, which will be bad news for the peo­ple of Ash­ford and Ten­ter­den. It is to­tally un­ac­cept­able – we have thou­sands of new homes com­ing to the town and all of those res­i­dents are go­ing to need the treat­ment and ex­pect an A&E.” Cllr Bartlett, who is also a Kent county coun­cil­lor for Ash­ford Cen­tral, called on res­i­dents to be­come mem­bers of the East Kent Hos­pi­tals trust to keep upto-date with devel­op­ments.

Cur­rent ABC leader Gerry Clark­son says Ash­ford is the best place for an A&E.

He said: “Ash­ford is a grow­ing town in terms of pop­u­la­tion and it is a very large district.

“We would be quite de­ter­mined to de­fend any threat to our A&E.

“When you look at its ge­o­graph­i­cal po­si­tion and trans­port links, it makes sense for A&E to re­main in Ash­ford.

“There is a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod and we will re­spond in a mea­sured way.”

The pro­pos­als are to be scru­ti­nised and dis­cussed at an open meet­ing at the Grand Ho­tel in Folkestone from 9am to 11am to­day (Thurs­day).

To regis­ter in­ter­est in at­tend­ing the meet­ing, email info@ east­kent.nhs.uk. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.ken­tandmed­way.nhs.uk or www.ekhuft.nhs. uk to be­come a trust mem­ber. For the full Our Man In West­min­ster col­umn, see page 18.

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