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A new hospital for East Kent, in Canterbury...

Our mission

We understand that in 2020, a public consultation will be held on the establishment of a single main acute specialist hospital in East Kent.

Our mission is to promote the advantages for all the people of East Kent of a new acute, specialist hospital in Canterbury.

To that end we will provide an effective channel of communication that will give the people of East Kent access to the facts of healthcare in our area, and to the reasoning that underpins the selection of the two options for the location of the main specialist hospital.

Read our mission statement in full >>>

What are the two options?

  • OPTION 1: William Harvey Hospital (WHH) - Development of this hospital with all the specialist facilities based on this site, to cover the whole of East Kent and beyond whilst retaining non-specialist hospital services at Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (QEQM) and the Kent and Canterbury (K&C).

  • OPTION 2: New hospital to be built next to the existing K&C Hospital, having direct access off the A2, with all specialist services based on one site, covering the whole of East Kent and beyond. Retention of non-specialist hospital services at the WHH and the QEQM.
For a more complete view of these two options, please download the NHS presentation

Do you have questions?

Have a look at out FAQ page. If your question is not answered there, please let us know.

Latest News

19 Sep 2021

Latest Information on Plans for New Hospital.

No decision has yet been taken on going out to public consultation on the two options for the location of the new specialist hospital - Canterbury or Ashford.

The East Kent Hospital Trust has told the Option Two Group that the plans were submitted to NHS England in November 2020 and that the latter had accepted that there is a compelling need to make the change because of the challenge of services being split across hospital sites in East Kent. Clearly the current situation, with specialist services spread across three sites is untenable and results in poor outcomes for residents of East Kent.

However, there are two things holding up the plans:
First, NHS England wants more detail on the range of services to be provided in each of the three hospitals, regardless of whether it is the specialist hospital. So do we! We have written to East Kent Hospital Trust requesting that detail.
Second, the Government have not said where the £400 million it will cost to build a new state-of-the-art hospital will come from. East Kent does not appear on any list, so far, of planned new or re-build hospitals in England.

All of us in East Kent need to make sure our MPs are telling the Government that it will be failing us if it does not fund a new specialist hospital here.


20 Aug 2021

Plans to expand William Harvey Hospital A&E in Ashford to meet demand from growing patient numbers.

Plans to upgrade a major hospital's A&E department have been revealed as the site no longer has sufficient capacity to cope with growing patient numbers.

The emergency unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford is currently used by about 280 people each day _ and pressure on the facility has increased because of the pandemic and the need for greater segregation.

Read the full story here at Kent Online 9 Mar 2021

What is happening to East Kent's Health Services?

They are responding to the NHS's Long Term Plan!

The NHS Long Term Plan was published in January 2019, and outlined a new system for how to plan and deliver local health and social care services. At the East Kent joint committee's meeting in Ashford on 9 May 2019 the committee published a paper outlining the plans for the new structure. This is a slightly modified version of that original document.

The work of the joint committee of the four former clinical commissioning groups in east Kent (NHS Ashford CCG, NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG, NHS South Kent Coast CCG, and NHS Thanet CCG) is now being taken forward by the NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, which was created by merging the eight former CCGs across the county on 1 April 2020. The video released in the Autumn of 2019 sets the scene for the current changes.

The interim East Kent Integrated Care Partnership and commissioners continue to work with East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust to develop the hospital service proposals and are now seeking the approval of NHSE/I and support from government, before a final consultation can take place later this year.

Active changes for improving the local health and care services across east Kent are progressing well. The changes are occurring at different rates within the newly grouped GP based Primary Care Networks for various and different reasons. However, they are all working toward meeting the demands of the NHS Long Term Plan. This provides a model for providing effective care as locally as possible and designed to support people stay in their own home where practical.

The new care structure has three levels, GP based primary care networks (PCNs), geographically based integrated care partnerships (ICPs) which sit within the overall integrated care system (ICS). The managers are working towards establishing this Kent and Medway ICS by April 2021.

Primary care networks (PCNs) are now based around groups of neighbouring GP practices, serving populations of between 30,000 to 50,000 people. They are working to provide community, social care and primary care services and will help GPs and other healthcare professionals manage their workloads, enhance clinical capacity and capability, and help attract and retain staff. They are working to make sure the needs, knowledge and voices of local people are reflected in how healthcare services are planned and delivered.

Integrated care partnerships (ICPs) covering: west Kent; Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley; Medway and Swale have been formed, in line with the Sustainability and Transformation Plan. The east Kent ICP is still being developed but in part is dependent on the final outcome of the hospital development. Each ICP includes commissioning and provider organisations working together to develop and deliver services that offer seamless health and care to local people. They will play a key role in health improvement services, reducing health inequalities and designing services that meet patients’ needs, best practice standards, and deliver care within a defined budget.

Integrated Care Systems (ICS)
The ICS will build on the foundations of the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STPs) formed in late 2019. This brings together local health and care organisations giving a mechanism to support and encourage work across organisational boundaries, redesign care in a holistic way and improve population health through shared leadership, responsibility and action. As part of establishing the ICS the Partnership developed proposals for a single clinical commissioning group covering the whole of Kent and Medway. This transition is nearing completion and confirmation by the NHSE

Many of the new ways of working are already in place. The new models of working aim to break down barriers even further and work more effectively together to deliver better services and better health and care outcomes for local people. A further video produced in 2017 that describes the changes proposed then and being developed now: click here to open video

22 Feb 2021

The Department of Health's White Paper

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, this week announced a major overhaul of the administration of healthcare in England.

Now, many people will probably say: Why do this at a time when the NHS is struggling with a pandemic? 

Actually though, I think the overhaul should not be put off and one of the major proposals in the Department of Health’s White Paper is very relevant to the problems we have seen over the handling of Covid-19 during the past year.

This is to set up an Integrated Care System in every part of England. The idea is to ensure that hospitals, GPs, public health, and social care providers talk to each other and make plans for healthcare together. In fact, in our part of the world these bodies have already begun this process. However, it is very important that this process is given a boost and strengthened by legislation. One of the failures of the handling of the Covid-19 crisis was the failure to protect care homes from infection, and there is evidence that patients were being moved out of hospital into homes without adequate testing. I hope that the new stronger arrangements for vital cooperation between hospitals and the care system will go a long way to stop that happening.

There are other proposals in the White Paper that I like:

One is that the obligation for NHS hospitals to compete, rather than cooperate, with each other is to be scrapped. Another is that there will be no compulsion to make sure private providers can compete for NHS contracts. I would hope that this will lessen the amount of bureaucracy in the management of the Health Service.

Finally, there is a small sentence which I particularly like. It talks about the involvement of the public ‘not just for commentary but for co-production.’ Let’s see whether that will happen. What I would really like is for the poorer communities in Canterbury, through their community associations, to take part in planning to reduce the unequally high levels of ill-health they suffer from. 

Martin Vye, Chairman

The full White Paper is available here

22 Feb 2021

The Healthcare Services We Need And Want

We are all thinking of hospitals at the moment - as we think of Covid. There will be a future, though, beyond the pandemic and we need to be thinking about precisely what sort of hospital, and what sort of healthcare, we will need and want in the future.

This is how I see the hospital model that would give all of us the best healthcare:

First, we need one major specialist hospital in the centre of East Kent. A top-class multi-specialist hospital in which those of us suffering from acute, life threatening conditions such as stroke, heart and respiratory problems, and including complications in childbirth, can receive the best possible treatment from top-class consultants and highly trained specialist nurses and therapists.

Second, at the Ashford and Thanet hospitals, as well as at Canterbury, the services that most of us go to hospital for: urgent treatment to deal with broken bones, for example; routine medical and surgical conditions; diagnosis of the condition we are suffering from and especially, maternity services. These services need to be close to our homes.

Third, a GP service that is fully integrated with hospitals. This has already begun to happen, but it needs to be developed with much more urgency. It means consultants coming out from hospital to hold surgeries in GP practices. It means GPs themselves training up in specific specialisms so that they can provide a faster, more local diagnosis and treatment. This will reduce waiting times to see a consultant when really necessary.

And fourth, a state-of-the-art IT system that enables medical staff to confer with each other instantaneously, between hospitals or between GP practices and consultants, or between paramedics and specialist hospital, all to get speedier diagnosis and/or direction to the right treatment.

The current changes in GP practices can be worrying to those of us who are older. We have been used to having one doctor to whom we refer every health problem we encounter. Currently GPs are in short supply, but they are also working differently. The system is changing - and can work very well. For example, I was worried by evidence of a carcinoma on my face. I rang the Health Centre. Two hours later someone rang me and asked me to send a photograph. I did that and within two days I had a referral to Dermatology at Kent and Canterbury. But, of course, many of us will be uncomfortable with any change at first, until we have seen that the new way really works. Thought has been given to how people receive help in navigating the system. If you are unsure, ask to speak to the “care navigator” in the practice or else the practice manager - they are there to help.

So - this is my vision for the future. What do you think? In many ways this is what the NHS is working to introduce, but where should that specialist hospital be?

Your thoughts and discussions are most welcome....

18 Feb 2021

Option 2 4 U Group

KM Article

The Option Summary published in the Kentish Gazette this week shows exactly why our Group is called Option 2 4 U. It sets out clearly the two options available for the public to consider when the Consultation takes place, hopefully, this year.

Option 2 shows that Specialist Services and Complex Inpatient Care will be available at the new Kent & Canterbury Hospital and that all three East Kent Hospitals will offer Emergency Care (including A&E and critical care).

Our thanks to Peggy Pryer, our Secretary, for setting out our aims to the press and for ensuring our Option 2 4 U Group is recognised as a serious, informed campaign group. It is also encouraging to note that the proposal for a new hospital in Canterbury is supported by our local MP and medical practitioners.

18 Feb 2021

Proposed New Hospital in Canterbury

Have you seen the latest report published in the Kentish Gazette dated 18th February 2021?

Keep up-to-date with all developments so you are ready to respond to the Public Consultation which will hopefully take place this year.

1 Oct 2020

Soon Be Time For you Have Your Say on Healthcare Services in East Kent

After six months of lockdown, and the huge pressures on the NHS, it is time to take stock—and look to the future.

There is no doubt about it: the acute hospital service in East Kent is not able to cope with the health needs of the people it serves

  • At the end of June we learnt of particularly high death rates from COVID.
  • The Hospital Trust is being investigated after failures in the maternity services.
  • There is evidence of misdiagnosis of other conditions.

The fact is, given the way the hospital service is configured, the Trust cannot recruit sufficient numbers of the highly qualified clinical and nursing staff we need to make these vital decisions.

East Kent needs one major hospital, with all acute specialities on one site, that is capable of attracting the best medical, nursing, and allied professional staff.

The local NHS authorities, we understand, are persevering with their bid to create such a hospital. The two options for the location of this hospital being looked at are still either Ashford or Canterbury. We also hear that the favoured option is Canterbury, the logical choice, at the natural centre of East Kent.

It is difficult to see how the Government can NOT deliver on its promises of substantial extra funding for the Health Service. If that is so, and given the red flashing lights that East Kent must be setting off in NHS headquarters, we are more hopeful now that the options will be presented to the people of East Kent over the next year.

At the same time the developer who will deliver free of charge the building for the hospital, if Canterbury is chosen, will be looking in later 2021 to make the application to Canterbury City Council for permission to build a new estate of houses which is his condition for providing the building.

It is vital that the voice of local people is heard loud and strong when the options for the new hospital are put before us.

In the meantime it is equally important that the authorities know what it is like for people who have to use our local health services. Do let us know your thoughts about, and experience of, the local NHS. We will make sure they are directed to the right people.

27 Mar 2020

Meeting With Rosie Duffield MP

Rosie Duffield MP

The chair and secretary of Option2 Group met with our Canterbury MP on the 12th March 2020. We explained to her that the Option2 in our title refers to the second option for the location of a new main specialist acute hospital for the whole of East Kent. Option 2 would put this newly-built hospital right next door to the present Kent and Canterbury. We said to Rosie that we believe this is the best option, for the people of Canterbury and for the whole of East Kent. However, while we actively promote this, we wanted to make sure local people know the facts when the NHS goes out to public consultation and asks people what they think..

Rosie listened carefully. She is clearly well-informed about the state of healthcare in Canterbury and East Kent. She has actively supported the setting-up of a public inquiry into the recently disclosed spate of neo-natal deaths in East Kent hospitals.

Our secretary Peggy Pryer, a former member of the nursing profession who practised in various areas of East Kent, remains in contact with many of today’s front-line local nurses through her continued membership of the East Kent Branch of the Royal College of Nursing. She briefed Rosie about the effects the staffing crisis in our local hospitals is having on both staff and patients.

At the end of the meeting Rosie asked us to join her in a photo call, during which she expressed her support for the community outreach we are doing.

OptionTwo4 U welcome the engagement of both our local MPs and the City Council.

24 Mar 2020

Coronavirus Coronavirus

In the light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, our Group is unable to get out to talk to organisations or social groups about our work towards a new hospital for East Kent in Canterbury.

We have, therefore, put our presentation on the website for you to view and pass on to friends and family.

Click here to view our presentation
21 Feb 2020

New Hospital Must be Built in City

"We make no bones about it: we believe that East Kent needs a single main hospital providing all the acute services; and that it should be located in Canterbury." A letter from Martin Vye, Chair of Option 2 4U, appears in the Kentish Gazette this week. It confirms our group’s aim to provide accurate information to the public in preparation for the upcoming consultation.

Read full text


It is good to see that two local MP’s Rosie Duffield and Helen Whately, are highlighting the need for a new hospital in Canterbury. Certainly recent events have made it clear that there has to be radical change in how hospital services are organised in east Kent.

It is now three years since the local NHS/Social Care Partnership published its proposals for a new all-purpose acute hospital in east Kent. For the last year, however, they seem to have disappeared into a black hole. That is why a number of us have decided to set up a group dedicated to providing accurate information to the public.

We make no bones about it: we believe that East Kent needs a single main hospital providing all the acute services; and that it should be located in Canterbury.

We don’t want the other two hospitals though, in Ashford and Margate, to be reduced to shadows of their former selves. 87% of all visits to hospital are for non-acute conditions, and of course it is right for local people in those areas to be able to make those visits, to their local hospital.

But if we have a really serious condition we want the best possible treatment. Specialist consultants are in short supply. Trying to recruit clinicians of this calibre for three hospitals in east Kent is clearly not working.

And why Canterbury? Because it is at the centre of east Kent. Does it make sense for the main hospital to be located on the outside of the circle rather than the centre? Or for emergency ambulances to travel 35 miles rather than 18?

There will be a consultation on hospital plans later this year, we are told. The results of this consultation will be vital to the final decision. Our group wants to make sure local people have as much of the relevant facts as are available when they are asked to give their views.

So do visit our website option2group.org.uk – and contact us on optiontwo4u@gmail.com.

Martin Vye,

Chair, optiontwo4u

21 Feb 2020

Frustration Over Hospital Decision

Read what Cllr Louise Jones-Roberts wrote in the Kentish Gazette last week. She states "To a layperson, therefore, it feels the only way to maximise the level of acute care in east Kent is with Option 2."
Kentish Gazette Article
21 Feb 2020

Support From Faversham

"The best option, in our view, must be to centralise most hospital services at a new, up-to-date facility in Canterbury …." Pamela & Richard Margrie write in support of the centralisation of hospital services at a new hospital in Canterbury.

Kentish Gazette Article
Read full text


Following on from the tragic circumstances at the QEQM maternity unit, the best option, in our view must be to centralise most hospital services at a new, up-to-date facility in Canterbury including a major A&E department and maternity unit.

Pamela & Richard Margrie
Tanners Street, Faversham

14 Feb 2020

Local MP in Cabinet Reshuffle

Faversham MP, Helen Whately, has been appointed as a Junior Minister in the Department of Health (Minister of State for Social Care)
12 Feb 2020

MP Rosie Duffield backs a new hospital in Canterbury

The Canterbury MP claimed that a baby death scandal in east Kent could have been avoided if a new hospital was up and running in Canterbury. For more information, see the Kentish Gazette Article
8 Jan 2020

Canterbury City Council Unanimously Backs Option 2

At the Full Council meeting on 8th January, Cllr Jones-Roberts proposed a motion that

"This council commits to use its best endeavours to support the construction of a new hospital in Canterbury, with the provision of all the services and employment opportunities residents expect and deserve, and to aid, wherever possible, those groups, organisations and individuals who are working to achieve this aim."

Cllr Eden-Green added an amendment recognising the groups involved in this and the motion was unanimously backed.

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