Stroke unit sit­ing is of vi­tal im­por­tance

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion -

It is quite dis­turb­ing that two con­sul­ta­tions are to take place al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously on mat­ters that are of great im­por­tance to the peo­ple of east Kent.

The first con­cerns the pro­vi­sion of a hy­per acute stroke unit. This is a highly spe­cialised unit and can­not be pro­vided at all hos­pi­tals in a Trust. At these units pa­tients are ad­mit­ted ur­gently where they are in­ves­ti­gated to see whether their stroke is due to a bleed or a block and the ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment given speed­ily. These units will also have highly skilled X-ray doc­tors who can in­sert tubes into blood ves­sels and in­ject clot-bust­ing drugs to the very site of the trou­ble.

This ser­vice has been looked into by well-qual­i­fied per­sons and for the Kent and Med­way ter­ri­tory they have de­cided that there is a need for three such units and a choice has to be made to site them in ei­ther Dar­ent, Tun­bridge Wells, Maid­stone, Med­way or east Kent. The east Kent site cho­sen is at William Har­vey hos­pi­tal at Ash­ford.

There are five pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tions of triple sites and William Har­vey ap­pears in all. William Har­vey is not in the cen­tre of east Kent and plac­ing the cen­tre there will be to the detri­ment of Thanet pa­tients.

In ad­di­tion, Can­ter­bury is a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­ol­ogy, as was men­tioned be­fore and it is re­quired.

What­ever hap­pens, east Kent will only have one stroke cen­tre and west Kent two.

At the same time in east Kent at the end of this month a fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion will be­gin about the sit­ing of ur­gent care.

Com­mon sense would sug­gest that be­fore the stroke con­sul­ta­tion the op­tions for east Kent should be de­clared and then we might know if the east Kent cen­tre for ur­gent care would be in Ash­ford or in a lo­ca­tion that would bet­ter serve the wider east Kent pop­u­la­tion.

Not only is this pre­ma­ture con­sul­ta­tion on stroke ser­vices bad for east Kent but its sit­ing there would have an im­pact on the west Kent choices.

The de­vel­op­ment of stroke cen­tres will cost tens of mil­lions of pounds and, put in the wrong place, will be a huge waste of NHS scarce re­sources.

East Kent is a ge­o­graph­i­cal en­tity sur­rounded on three sides by sea.

Ev­ery­thing must be done to make it a cen­tre where the ma­jor­ity of pa­tients can be treated and the com­plex­ity for stroke treat­ment could cer­tainly be car­ried out in Can­ter­bury if that were the site cho­sen.

De­ci­sions such as the above car­ried out by sub spe­cial­i­ties in medicine and surgery will strip away the very heart of our lo­cal hos­pi­tals and plunge them into the depths of medi­ocrity to the detri­ment of our pa­tients.

At a time when the ris­ing in­ci­dence of strokes in younger peo­ple has made the na­tional news, I would urge all to take part in the con­sul­ta­tion to in­flu­ence de­ci­sion mak­ing. Michael Gog­gin, Hack­ing­ton Road, Tyler Hill

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