Campaigner hits out at hospital over care ty

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Save the DGH campaigner Liz Walke has said she sees similarities between the DGH and the much-criticised Staffordshire Hospital, as Eastbourne’s NHS trust was dragged in to the national care scandal.

Yesterday (February 7), The Telegraph revealed that nine families who were treated at Eastbourne DGH had instructed lawyers to pursue their claims.

The national newspaper said the families allege treatment at the hospital amounted to a breach of their human rights and, in some cases, may have contributed to their deaths.

One of the claimants is Robin Tilbury, whose 85-year-old mother Patricia died at the DGH in November 2011.

She had cancer and had been admitted with malnutrition. Mr Tilbury believes his mother had been denied vital nutrition supplements and had not been monitored ‘in any way’.

A spokesperson from East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust said, “The trust has referred two claims under the Human Rights Act to the NHS Litigation Authority.

“The trust takes any claim or complaint seriously and ensures that each one is investigated and the learning from the investigation is shared across the whole organisation so services can be continuously improved.”

These claims follow the publication of the damning Francis Review report into the crisis at Mid Staffordshire, where up to 1,200 people died needlessly.

An investigation has also been launched into excessive mortality rates at five other NHS trusts. East Sussex NHS Trust is not included in that list but Save the DGH campaigner Liz Walke says she went to a trust board meeting on Wednesday (February 7) and felt the focus was on finance and not care - a key element raised by Robert Francis in his inquiry on the failed hospital in Staffordshire.

She said, “Money was the focus and having watched the news, I could see there were similarities between us and Staffordshire. It seemed that so much at the meeting was about finances.”

The spokesman from the trust said he strongly disputed Liz Walke’s claims and said the vast majority of the trust’s board meeting was spent focussing on quality and patient safety.

He also said the Francis report was taken very seriously and added, “The organisation has made significant progress in the last two years in relation to the nursing care it offers and knows that the organisation must continue to develop so we can deliver excellence in all aspects of the care we provide.

“As part of an ongoing programme of development the organisation has developed key roles within its workforce such as dementia champions and is investing in both the leadership skills as well as the clinical skills of the workforce.

“We are measuring the impact of the changes we are making through key standards and performance measures in both the acute and community areas. Our service standards are monitored internally and externally by regulators such as the CQC and this has provided evidence of the progress we have already made.”

The spokesperson said the trust held its first Patient Experience Conference last week and added, “It is very clear that issues surrounding the quality, safety and dignity associated with our services are being thought about widely and deeply throughout the organisation.”