Once again, the opportunity for NHS bosses to do the right thing has been and gone, with Canterbury residents facing the prospect of a harsh winter with no Urgent Care Centre.
It is no coincidence that the chaos in Margate and Ashford began at the same time the Urgent Care Centre in Canterbury was ‘temporarily’ closed by Matthew Kershaw and the CCG.
In September, CEO Matthew Kershaw resigned because of the appalling failure of the Accident and Emergency centres in east Kent to cope with the excessive demands placed on them. With waiting times the worst in the country for the third month running, finally it seemed as though a solution had been found: ten new doctors have been hired.
The NHS Trust (EKHUFT) cannot permanently close the Urgent Care Centre without following due process – this is a legal requirement. The reason for closing the department temporarily was that there were not enough qualified doctors to keep it running safely. Now there are enough doctors, the Urgent Care Centre can finally re-open.
Except there is no sign it is going to. Rather than fulfilling a legal requirement to re-open the Urgent Care Centre, the doors remain shut and the doctors deployed elsewhere. The A&Es in Ashford and Margate are hopelessly overcrowded, yet instead of using the empty departments in Canterbury, the CCG are spending money building extensions for them.
Time and again, NHS bosses make bad decisions to suit their silent agenda. They seem to have no intention of bring services back to Canterbury. The longer the departments sit empty, the harder they are to re-open. Staff move on, equipment is re-allocated, and the building falls into disrepair, which suits the bosses perfectly.
We believe the ultimate agenda of the Trust is for one major hospital in Ashford, with Canterbury and Margate vastly downgraded. This will leave tens of thousands of east Kent residents over an hour away from life-saving services.
CHEK needs your help to stop them getting away with it. By holding NHS bosses to account and forcing them to adhere to due process, we can - quite literally - save lives. But we can’t do it without you.