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Half of Kent's stroke services could cease to exist

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Protesters gathered in Ramsgate as part of their fight to save the stroke unit at the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother hospital in Margate.

The NHS has proposed creating three large specialist centres in Kent - replacing the current six smaller hospital units - to provide round the clock care.

Campaigners say patients will have to travel to Ashford for treatment which they say will be detrimental to their care and even life threatening.

Jenna Verdicchio has this report:

The message is clear: campaigners rally outside a GP surgery in Ramsgate.

Their aim? To stop Stoke services being removed from Margate's Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital.

Campaigners say there are 2 Doctors in Thanet who can sign off on this decision which is expected earlier in the new year. One Doctor is a GP at Dashwood Medical Centre.

A petition has been drawn up and signatures are being collected from patients of surgery to try and pressurise the Doctor to listen to the concerns of local people.

Campaigners are echoing what medical professionals tell us, that when it comes to a Stroke, TIME is of the essence.

They say moving the unit will mean a 300% increase in journey times.

The Kent & Medway Stroke Review say, ''We firmly believe that our proposals will improve stroke care for everyone in Kent and Medway- regardless of their location.''

It does not matter if the units are in densely populated areas of deprivation, what matters is that people having a stroke have access to a specialist unit, within the specified timeframes and that the first 72 hours of care is delivered by a specialist team on hand 24/7.'

– Kent & Medawy Stroke Review

Locals in Thanet feel strongly about proposed changes.

There are currently 6 stroke units, all placed in hospitals. The proposals is to cut that down to 3.

Half the stroke services to be cut in Kent

This means half the stroke units across Kent will be closing.

Half the stroke services to be cut in Kent

A decision will be made early next year.