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March 17, 2019 8:39 AM
By Alan Wells

medway maritime hospitalMedway Liberal Democrats welcome the news that Councillors in Medway (the Scrutiny Committee) have formally agreed to refer the decision to locate three new specialist stroke units outside the Towns to the Secretary of State for an independent review.

The decision to place Hyper Acute Stroke Units (HASU) at William Harvey Hospital, Darent Valley Hospital and Maidstone Hospital, impacts on half-million people who use Medway Hospital.

Medway is the fastest growing urban area in the South East outside London but it suffers from significant deprivation and health inequalities. The same applies to Sittingbourne and Sheppey, residents living on the Isle of Sheppey face a hugely difficult journey to reach Maidstone Hospital, where time is of the essence in terms of suffering a stroke.

Medway Liberal Democrats are supportive that there should be three hyper-acute stroke units, but not supportive of the location of the units chosen in the decision. The five options discussed in early 2018 showed three sites as preferable (Ashford, Tunbridge Wells and Medway), Darent Valley being less preferable and Maidstone as the worst, with Ashford, Tunbridge Wells and Medway providing the best geographical distribution to serve the population and quality of care.

Medway Liberal Democrats also question the last minute changes and in-consistences to the way the different options for siting the units had been assessed - which had mainly disadvantaged an option which included Medway and favoured the option which was eventually selected. We feel that there should be a clear audit trail looking at the rationale of the decision making process of the selected sites.

We have no confidence in the preferred three sites to deliver a realistic, workable health service for residents and being sustainable due to capacity. The HASUs should be placed in areas of high deprivation in the county, and that the plans will leave many too far from a stroke centre.

Medway Liberal Democrats welcome this news as a step forward, but more importantly are supporting a Judicial Review at the earliest opportunity on the grounds that the selection process is deeply flawed.

Medway Liberal Democrats want a decision which best serves the health of our residents. If our residents needs are not adequately catered for, then the final decision should be challenged and the appropriate services should be secured for our population, with new HASUs to be based at Tunbridge Wells, Medway and Ashford.