Kent outpatient clinic cuts put to public consultation
A consultation has begun on plans to cut the number of NHS outpatient clinics in east Kent from 15 to six.
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust claimed the clinics would provide better, specialist treatment.
The trust said it planned to spend £5m on facilities at the six centres and make more use of technology.
But critics, including Kent MP Gordon Henderson, said patients would have further to travel.
The plans, which have gone out to public consultation, could see the end of outpatient clinics at Deal, Herne Bay, Whitstable and Tankerton, Hythe, Sheppey and Sittingbourne hospitals, Faversham Health Centre, New Romney Clinic and the Spencer Wing at Margate hospital.
Instead the trust wants to concentrate services at Canterbury, Ashford, Margate, Dover and Folkestone hospitals, with the option of a sixth base in Whitstable or Sittingbourne.
Gordon Henderson, the Conservative MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, said: "There going to six sites, or potentially seven, with the seventh site being in Sittingbourne.
"It still would mean people on most parts of the Isle of Sheppey would not be able to access those within 20 minutes, which is the criteria the trust appears to be setting down.
"It is fatally flawed from the beginning. I'm not happy."
The public consultation runs until 9 March next year, with 10 public meetings scheduled over the 13 week period.
The changes could take up to three years to implement.