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I am grateful for the opportunity to hold this debate. I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), to the hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) and to the Minister for being here to debate this matter well into the witching hour.
It is difficult to exaggerate the scale of concern about the future of acute health services in East Kent, and particularly at Kent and Canterbury hospital. I have received more than 3,000 individually written letters on the subject. It would be out of order for me to refer to the Gallery, but considerable interest is being shown—