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600 turn out to say ‘save NHS services’

Health chiefs ‘get a taste’ of support for Queen Vic clinics

PACKED: Herne Bay residents turned out in force to show officials the strength of feeling about the Queen Vic
PACKED: Herne Bay residents turned out in force to show officials the strength of feeling about the Queen Vic

HOSPITAL bosses wanted to know what patients thought about Herne Bay’s hospital services being cut — so about 600 turned out to show them. So many people came to a consultation meeting at the Kings Hall to discuss plans to move clinics to Estuary View at Whitstable that the venue was full to bursting. Dozens were turned away and officials are now planning another meeting to let them have their say too. Gillian Fowler, chairman of the League of Friends of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, said:

“That meeting showed the depth of feeling about the proposals. If they wanted a demonstration of how patients feel about the changes they got a taste of that. It ‘as a foul night but they were there because they wanted to support their hospital.”

Force

“We showed them we are a force to be reckoned with.”

East Kent Hospitals University Foundation NHS Trust wants to move consultant-led outpatient clinics to Whitstable as part of a plan to reduce the number of sites they use. But campaigners argue they should be kept in Herne Bay, because the town has the highest population concentration, and a high number of pensioners and people without cars. Town MP Sir Roger Gale received rapturous applause when he declared:

“Herne Bay wants its hospital, it needs its hospital, it is going to hang onto its hospital.”

On Friday, Mrs Fowler met trust chairman Nick Wells and chief executive Stuart Barn and other officials with representatives from the NHS Property Company and hospital staff to discuss the way forward. Trust bosses had said at the meeting they could not expand services at Herne Bay because it would cost more than their plans for Estuary View — although the site there needs expanding too. She said:

“We had an interesting discussion and it really could be down to the rent – we need to find out why we are charging more than Estuary View. But they have been given a lot to think about. We showed them round and I think they were impressed because our hospital is beautifully maintained. We have got so much here already which is running well. There must have been an indication in the beginning that Estuary View would be the preferred choice because the practice has drawn up designs for an extension. But they didn’t count on Herne Bay.”

A date for the extra Herne Bay meeting has not been confirmed.

Herne Bay Times, February 6th 2014

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