Kent

Three A&Es 'not an option' for east Kent

Protesters who gathered in June
Image caption In June protesters gathered to voice their opposition to changes to services at Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Having three hospital accident and emergency departments is "not an option" for east Kent, a health commissioner has stressed at a meeting.

Concern for Health in East Kent held Saturday's public event to discuss plans for the area's three hospitals.

Currently, patients who require urgent care in Canterbury must go to Margate or Ashford for treatment.

But Labour councillor Karen Constantine insisted "you cannot have a situation" where one hospital is without an A&E.

She added: "If you did a comparative study across the UK, you would find many areas like east Kent that have three A&Es."

But Hazel Smith of the NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group said: "For the last 18 months we have had a very detailed clinically-led process looking at a vast number of options.

"It was very clear through that process that three A&Es was not an option that we could take forward."

Image caption KCC Labour councillor Karen Constantine said "you cannot have a situation" where one hospital is without an A&E

Currently, the East Kent Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust's three main hospitals - Kent and Canterbury (K&C) Hospital in Canterbury, William Harvey in Ashford and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (QEQM) in Margate - each provide different services.

The K&C Hospital is currently open to treat minor injuries and illnesses only after "temporary" changes - those patients who require urgent care for heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia are now treated in Margate or Ashford, whichever is closer.

A health commissioning group is considering two options going forward but neither would result in accident and emergency services at all three locations.

On Friday, Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said he was "seriously concerned" and called for a "third option".

He said there should be a new hospital in Canterbury with consultant-led A&E and specialist services, alongside continuing accident and emergency services at William Harvey and QEQM.

The proposals are due for public consultation later next year.

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