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Controversial changes at Kent & Canterbury Hospital

There has been some concern in the local community about the changes Photo:

Today marks the first day of temporary service changes at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital (K&C) in Canterbury.

Patients who need emergency care for conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia - will be taken to hospitals in Margate or Ashford.

Canterbury residents demonstrated against the changes

Hundreds of residents took to the streets of Canterbury earlier this month to complain about the changes, saying the move would be inconvenient and could put patients lives at risk.

The Trust issued this statement concerning the changes on its website:

'We are planning to make temporary changes to some services at Kent and Canterbury Hospital (K&C) from 19 June 2017. If you have a planned operation or appointment at K&C, these changes will not affect you and you will be seen and treated as usual.

'This change will affect people who require emergency medical care for conditions like heart attack, stroke and pneumonia. These patients will be taken directly by ambulance to our hospitals in Margate or Ashford, whichever is closer, for initial assessment and if they need to be admitted, patients will continue to be treated at these hospitals while they are very unwell.'

– East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust

The East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust looks after the K & C, as well as the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford; the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate; the Buckland Hospital in Dover; and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone.

THE REASON FOR THE CHANGES The trust says that it has introduced the changes because Health Education England the body which oversees the quality of training for junior doctors in hospitals - has asked the trust to move some of the junior doctors at the K&C to the two hospitals at Ashford and Margate.

The trust said the reason given by Health Education England, was that there are not enough permanent consultants at the K&C to give the junior doctors adequate training and supervision.

Under the new arrangement ambulances will take patients to either Margate or Ashford

THE IMPACT ON PATIENTS

Patients needing emergency medical care who would usually be taken to the K&C at Canterbury, will now be directly taken by ambulance to Margate or Ashford for their initial assessment - depending on which site is closer. If the patient is very ill, they will be treated at the hospital which has done their assessment.

The hospital has justified the move, by saying that patients need to be seen in the place where they will get the most appropriate treatment - which for now, is in either Ashford or Margate for the early stages of their treatment.

The trust says that if local patients who are well enough need to stay in hospital for their recovery and rehabilitation they can be moved to the K&C to be closer to home.

More than 120 people attend the Urgent Care Centre at the K&C every day. Under the temporary changes, approximately 35 of those people who are taken to hospital by ambulance will be taken to the A&E departments in Ashford or Margate.

The minor injuries and illnesses service at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital's Urgent Care Centre will still remain open 24 hours a day.

The hospital trust has reassured patients that their safety is its utmost concern

The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust says that of the 900 patients who use the hospital every day, about 50 will be affected. The trust has insisted that the changes will not affect other services at the Kent & Canterbury, for example chemotherapy services, surgical services, renal, vascular and urology services, and all outpatient clinics.

"Please be reassured that hospital services are safe and the temporary changes are only being introduced so we can continue to provide these services safely."

– East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust