The decision to drastically cut back emergency care at Kent and Canterbury Hospital has plunged neighbouring A&E departments into crisis – with waiting times in east Kent the worst in the country.
Close to 200 patients a day are waiting more than four hours to be seen in A&Es at Ashford’s William Harvey and the QEQM in Thanet, with conditions likened to those in third-world countries.
Both departments are buckling under the added strain of extra patients diverted from Canterbury’s urgent care centre, which was closed to virtually all emergency admissions in June.
The knock-on effect is just 61% of A&E patients last month being seen within the NHS benchmark of four hours – the worst in England and against a national average of almost 86%.
Retired health and safety manager Richard Facer has accused the east Kent hospitals trust of “playing with people’s lives”.
The 65-year-old spent an afternoon in William Harvey’s A&E last week when his son-in-law was rushed in by ambulance after being knocked off his bicycle.
“It’s like a wartorn country,” he said. “The images you see on TV of these overcrowded wards, that’s happening here.
“I was amazed at how many people were crammed into the department. Patients were being left in the open on the ward or just left sitting in chairs.
“The level of overcrowding is something I would expect to see in a third-world country, not in a hospital in Great Britain.
Full story in Kent OnLine, 14 August 2017