Nurses ‘fear people could die’ as under-fire health trust announces east Kent stroke patients will be taken to Margate or Ashford and NOT Kent & Canterbury Hospital
PUBLISHED: 10:59 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:05 10 April 2017
It follows the announcement last month that more than half of the junior doctors at Canterbury will have to move to other sites
Health campaigners insist nurses have told them they fear patients will die after a struggling hospital suffered another setback this week.
Patients suspected of having a stroke will not be taken to Kent & Canterbury Hospital but instead directed straight to the QEQM in Margate or William Harvey in Ashford in a bid to ensure they are seen by specialist doctors straight away.
If a stroke is confirmed, they will be treated at this hospital and stay there for the first few days of their care.
Once patients local to Canterbury have recovered from the acute phase of their stroke at Ashford or Margate, they will be able to move to the K&C to continue their recovery and rehabilitation journey, closer to home.
Hospital bosses stress these are temporary changes being implemented to ensure hospital services remain safe.
It follows the announcement last month that more than half of the junior doctors at the Canterbury site will have to move to other sites in Ashford and Margate, due to a lack of permanent consultant doctors who oversee and support their training.
Additionally, hundreds of patients attending the hospital’s urgent care centre by ambulance would instead be taken to the emergency departments at William Harvey and the QEQM.
These doctors will move within the next few weeks but bosses have accelerated the planned changes to hyper acute stroke services due to a shortage of specialist consultants.
Around four people a day attend K&C with hyper acute stroke like symptoms.
On average, one of these patients has had a confirmed stroke and needs admitting to the stroke ward.
Most stroke services will remain unchanged at the K&C, including outpatient appointments and rehabilitation services, bosses say.
The hospital’s stroke ward will remain open and continue to care for patients recovering from a stroke.
Dr David Hargroves, clinical lead for stroke medicine for the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, explains: “The safety of patients is our utmost priority.
“We need patients to be seen in the place they will get the most appropriate treatment which means, for the moment, hyper acute stroke patients being treated at Ashford and Margate for the first few days of their care before coming to K&C to continue their recovery journey.
“Most patients return home within 14 days.
“We are well-equipped to treat people suffering with stroke by diverting them to an alternative east Kent hospital if we need to and we do this safely without any adverse outcomes for these patients.
“It is better for patients to be treated in the place which is able to provide the specialist care they need, which is not necessarily the nearest hospital.
“For example, we already take many patients with complex trauma and heart attacks straight to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
“We value our junior doctors and they play an important role in the treatment and care of patients, so it’s crucial for patients and the health service that they can access the training they need and we want them to have.
“Without enough specialist stroke consultants to adequately supervise the doctors, they cannot do this at K&C.”
However, campaigners at Concern for Health in East Kent (CHEK), claim distressed staff have told the group there could soon be fatalities.
Chairman Ken Rogers said: “We have had conversations with nurses that are worried that the re-habitation of patients transferred back to the Kent and Canterbury could deteriorate quickly and, without doctor support, could die.
“I know this is a frightening statement, but having seen the tears in their eyes, I really believe they feel this will happen.”
The trust insists the move is being made to maximise patient safety and insists no permanent changes would be made without public consultation.