A study by the Medical Care Research Unit at Sheffield University has confirmed the fears of local campaigners that the closure of Maidstone A&E will put the lives of seriously ill patients at risk by making them travel further.
Researchers found that the risk of death increased by 1% for every six miles travelled. Those with breathing problems were most at risk compared to those with other conditions. Their chances of dying were 13% if the distance to hospital was between six and 12 miles, and 20% if this was 12 miles or more. From Aylesford to Pembury is at least 18 miles and in traffic can easily take 40 minutes to get to by car.
This research clearly undermines the Government's claims that closures are based on clinical needs and the campaign against the closure of Maidstone A&E has always been focused around concerns about the distance to the new unit at Pembury. I hope that the Health Secretary will now consider this study in his deliberations on the future of Maidstone A&E, alongside the strength of local opposition against these proposals, and rule in favour of keeping this essential service open.