Stroke unit siting is of vital importance
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