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Open Letter to NHS Thanet CCG Governing Body regarding Stroke Services in Thanet

February 16, 2019 9:58 PM
By Angie Curwen

Liberal BirdI have written an open letter to Dr Jihad Malasi, Clinical Chair, NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group asking him not to agree the proposal at the meeting of the Joint Kent & Medway CCGs on Thursday 14th February to make a final decision on the reorganization of Stroke Units in Kent, Medway, East Sussex and Bexley, based on as yet unanswered questions from the Kent County Council Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC). The content of the letter is below.

Dear Dr Malasi,

I feel compelled to write to you as you are about to attend the final meeting on 14 th February where the decision of the stroke review will be taken to site three HASUs in Kent, to cope with all the stroke patients from all over East Sussex, Bexley, Kent and Medway, for the next 20 years.

Following concerns raised by Ida Linfield, County Councillor and member of the KCC Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC), Scrutiny Committee, I understand that a request from KCC JHOSC has been made as follows:

The Committee agreed the following recommendation at this meeting:

  • The NHS are asked to pass on the comments of the JHOSC to the Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups (JCCCG) and to report back to the Joint Stroke HOSC and ask that the JCCCG prepare and consider an analysis of how population growth in North Kent, specifically Medway and the Thames Gateway, and East Kent has been taken into account in the proposals, particularly in relation to the number of HASUs being proposed."

My understanding is that questions were raised regarding the population figures in the NHS report as follows:

"In 2017 there was just short of 3 million people living in the whole catchment area. The NHS assured the committee that all new housing stock planned for the future is included in their calculations for "the next ten years". But the figures they used are only for Kent and Medway and do not include any from East Sussex and Bexley. Also the report does not include any of the 'windfall' developments like the one in Thannington and which are now cropping up all over the country. Finally the population figures that are quoted are supposed to be "refreshed regularly" but that hasn't happened for the last year!

So the NHS report uses reduced figures which exclude East Sussex and Bexley, and which are valid only for the next 10 years, to justify their decision for a 20 year plan!"

There were also serious concerns raised regarding the number of stroke patients exceeding the capacity of the 3 HASUs:

"The report to the Committee said that a recent local NHS report predicts that there will be a 43.1% increase in the number of strokes between 2016 -2042 - in Kent and Medway alone; that each HASU
needs to be designed to cater for 500-600 patients each year and that "in 2016/17 there were 3,146 confirmed strokes in the Kent and Medway catchment area". So from these NHS stats, we already need some five HASUs now - never mind over the next 20 years - just to cope with the current situation in Kent alone!

The NHS is not following its own guidance about patient numbers for a HASU and is again using reduced figures in a 20 year plan."

The proposed location of the sites of the 3 HASUs were also discussed with questions of discrimination and inequality by postcode raised:

"The sites for the new HASUs as proposed in the NHS report are not spread equally throughout the catchment area:

It is planned that they will be at Ashford, Maidstone and Darenth Valley and so will all to be based in the middle of Kent. It would be interesting to know what an equality assessment report would make of this decision as residents in Cliftonville and Crowborough, to name but two towns, are clearly discriminated against. And yet this "equality" is to last for 20 years…"

As the request from the KCC JHOSC was for a response to these very serious concerns to be made at their next meeting on Tuesday 26th February I would suggest that it is not viable to make the final decision on 14th February without these vital questions having been answered.

I therefore call on you to object to any final decision being taken on 14th February on behalf of the residents of Thanet without these vital queries having been taken back to the JHOSC.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Angie Curwen
Thanet Chair, East Kent Coast Liberal Democrats
Nursery Cottage, Quex Park, Birchington, Kent, CT7 0BH.