Council fears for maternity future after private meeting

Darren Grayson Chief Executive Officer East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. May 17th 2011 E20061M

Darren Grayson Chief Executive Officer East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. May 17th 2011 E20061M

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Eastbourne Borough Council believes consultant-led maternity care has ‘no future in Eastbourne’ after a private meeting held with DGH bosses.

Cllr Tutt called for an emergency cross-party motion at Eastbourne Borough Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday evening after claiming that Darren Grayson, the hospital chief executive, said, “We are not planning to return consultant-led services to Eastbourne.” during the meeting.

Cllr Tutt said, “Mr Grayson made this statement at a meeting with councillors that he had insisted was held in private.

“However, there is no question whatsoever about the council’s duty to make residents aware of his clear view that maternity care has no future at the Eastbourne District General Hospital.”

However, DGH bosses have said the statement ‘totally misrepresents’ comments made at the meeting.

A hospital spokesman said, “The meeting with councillors was held at their request to provide an opportunity for senior clinicians and board members from the Trust to explain in detail the reasons behind the temporary move of consultant-led obstetrics in May for safety reasons.

“The statement made by Councillor Tutt totally misrepresents comments made at the meeting about the Trust’s commitment to the ongoing provision of safe care.”

The private meeting had been requested by councillors, who were fearful that temporary plans to move consultant-led maternity services to Hastings would become permanent, and attended by Mr Grayson and Stuart Welling, chairman of the Trust.

Liz Walke, chair of the Save the DGH campaign, said after the Wednesday evening council meeting, “To bring up something like that in the confines of a public meeting is appalling. I commend the council for bringing this to the public’s attention because the situation is urgent.

“To go through with all those meetings with the IRP when they had no intention of bringing the services back is a waste of time and a waste of money.”

Cllr Tutt’s emergency motion was fully backed by his fellow LibDems and Conservative opposition.

A bombshell has been dropped on Eastbourne after the Chief Executive of the East Sussex Healthcare Trust revealed there are no intentions to bring consultant-led maternity services back to the town.

Darren Grayson made the shocking admission at a private meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee last week.

Wishing to bring the devastating news to the public’s attention at the first opportunity, the council called an emergency cross-party motion at the full council meeting on Wednesday to express their concern on the matter.

The leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, Councillor David Tutt, said, “Mr Grayson made this statement at a meeting with councillors that he had insisted was held in private.

“However, there is no question whatsoever about the council’s duty to make residents aware of his clear view that maternity care has no future at the Eastbourne District General Hospital.”

The DGH was downgraded to a midwifery-led maternity unit only, with all consultant-led care being dealt with in Hastings.

Since the decision was announced, concerns have been voiced about patients travelling miles to Hastings while in the midst of an emergency during pregnancy.

However, despite many protests, the East Sussex Healthcare Trust will stick by their decision, stating, “We are not planning to return consultant-led services to Eastbourne.”

The announcement was made at the meeting, which was specifically convened for councillors to question Mr Grayson and the Chairman of the Trust, Stuart Welling, on the future of healthcare in Eastbourne.

Cllr David Tutt and Leader of the Opposition Group, Councillor David Elkins, tabled the emergency motion expressing concern that the statement by Darren Grayson has pre-determined any future consultation on maternity services at the hospital.

Also speaking at the full council meeting on Wednesday, Liz Walke, Chair of the Save the DGH campaign, said, “To bring up something like that in the confines of a public meeting is appalling. I commend the council for bringing this to the public’s attention because the situation is urgent.

“To go through with all those meetings with the IRP when they had no intention of bringing the services back is a waste of time and a waste of money.”

Following Mrs Walke’s speech, the councillor’s agreed no debate should be made on the topic and the motion should go straight to a vote. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the councill backed the motion.

The meeting with Councillors was held at their request to provide an opportunity for senior clinicians and Board members from the Trust to explain in detail the reasons behind the temporary move of consultant-led obstetrics in May for safety reasons. The statement made by Councillor Tutt totally misrepresents comments made at the meeting about the Trust’s commitment to the ongoing provision of safe care.