Campaigner’s anger over document on DGH future

Liz Walke
Liz Walke
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A Save the DGH campaigner has criticised a document on the future of services at the DGH, saying it clearly intends for the temporary changes to maternity and paediatric services to become a permanent fixture.

Residents are being asked their views on the future of the services following the decision by NHS bosses to see the Eastbourne hospital become a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit and to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service at the Conquest in Hastings. The changes also mean that children are no longer able to stay overnight at the DGH Friston Ward.

The GP-led bodies responsible for commissioning healthcare in East Sussex are inviting the public to help shape options for the future of the services and share their views. The decision on how these services will be offered in the longer term is the responsibility of the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in East Sussex. Senior doctors, midwives and other health professionals across Sussex have agreed a set of standards for maternity and paediatric care based on best practice and developed a clinical Case for Change.

But having read the document Liz Walke, chairman of Save the DGH, said, “I think they have made their intention clear to single site it, which is totally inappropriate for East Sussex.

“They are obviously not listening. The report is not in-depth enough.

“We are absolutely intent on getting back full maternity and paediatric services to the DGH as soon as possible, before a tragedy occurs.”

Dr Matt Jackson, a GP and Clinical Chief Officer Elect of Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG, stressed no decisions had yet been made, adding, “We know how important these services are for local families and it’s right that any changes in this area are subject to widespread scrutiny.”

The Case for Change indicates that birth numbers in excess of 2,500 per unit are required to ensure an obstetric-led maternity service can meet the required standards and be safely sustained. Birth rates at the Conquest and DGH were below this in 2012/13.

Both Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and Polegate MP Norman Baker are encouraging people to make their views known.

Mr Baker added, “I welcome the CCG giving local people the chance to have a say on local health provisions and I hope that they take a different approach to East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, namely by actually listening to the views of residents and medical professionals, rather than simply ploughing ahead with plans whatever the opposition like the Trust did.”

A survey can be found at: