Activists from opposing sides of East Kent’s healthcare restructuring are vying for the support of the new Prime Minister.
Canterbury politicians and residents want No 10 to back the city’s ‘superhospital’ plan, while those in Ashford are calling for the William Harvey to be modernised.
Local Tory members who met with Liz Truss during her campaign to appoint the country’s new leader claim she supports the vision.
City Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding (Con) told KentOnline: “Those who have met Liz tell me she supports the Canterbury proposal.
“I am encouraged that she supports our ambition to have a new full service hospital in Canterbury where it is best placed to provide excellent service to a large area.
“Now that Liz has been successful, I look forward to having the opportunity to speak further with her on the importance of releasing the funds as quickly as possible and Canterbury as the most logical place to invest in healthcare for ours select region.”
In stark contrast to Cllr Fitter-Harding, Ashford MP Damian Green is adamant that No 10 may not have formed an opinion on any of the options submitted.
“I’ve spoken to health ministers about it and it’s just not true,” he said.
“I will continue to advocate for proper investment in hospitals across East Kent, advocating that the quickest and cheapest way to get a good, modern hospital in our area is to choose the other option.”
Two proposals for the future of health services in the east of the county are currently under consideration.
Option 1 would centralize all major services at William Harvey, expand Margate’s QEQM A&E unit and reduce K&C to a diagnostic and routine surgery hospital.
Meanwhile, Option 2 would see the construction of a new super hospital on land adjacent to the existing K&C.
The five-story brick building would house a large emergency room for all surrounding counties, with all specialized services such as heart and stroke care centralized in the city.
This would result in the closure of A&E departments in Ashford and Margate, both of which would be downgraded to emergency treatment centres.
A timeline for the overhaul of services at the three hospitals is unclear at this time – as the process has been rumbling for years.
Health chiefs at the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are in the process of evaluating the two proposals before they are presented to the public for consultation.
Should option 2 be favoured, developer Quinn Estates has offered to build the shell of the super hospital in exchange for permission to build 2,000 new homes on neighboring properties.
The area in question, which stretches around Canterbury Rugby Club, is earmarked for housing development in the City Council’s local plan, its housing plan.
East Kent Hospitals University’s NHS Foundation Trust last month tendered to build the £232million so-called “hospital extension”.
It states: “The Trust is seeking to appoint a developer to design, build and finance a 60,000 square foot extension to the existing Kent and Canterbury Hospital for the design, construction and financing of a new development.”
The Ministry of Health is examining the plans for the new hospital.
Officials say they cannot comment on the program until they come to a final decision later this year.