Around a thousand people joined campaigners to fight the downgrading of services at the DGH this morning (Saturday).
The old, the young, mums-to-be and families joined Save the DGH campaign chairman Liz Walke and her team and the town’s MP Stephen Lloyd to send a defiant message to the trust that runs the hospital, ‘enough is enough’.
The rain held off for the best part of the protest which saw the crowds set off at 10am from Sussex Downs College and walk around the perimeter of the hospital.
The move comes four months after the Eastbourne hospital become a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit and the changes also mean that children are no longer able to stay overnight at the DGH Friston Ward.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHNT), which runs the hospital, said the temporary move had been made on the grounds of safety but it came as a blow to campaigners and followed a decision in November last year by the board of the trust to vote in favour of plans to centralise emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics at the Conquest in Hastings, with specialist stroke care remaining at the DGH. This was later backed by NHS Sussex.
Since the annoucement to downgradem maternity and paediatric services the Save the DGH group called for the ESHNT chief executive Daren Grayson, its chairman Stuart Welling and the board which runs the DGH to stand down.
Save the DGH chairman Liz Walke, (pictured), wants core services at both hospitals. She said this morning, “I think when maternity was downgraded in May everybody was absolutely outraged because we fought in 2006 and we fought hard and we won in 2008. We just felt why is this happening?
“Today we want to actually say enough is enough.”
“We’re not having anymore of this, we are going to fight this and fight this we will.”
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd, who joined mum-of-four Mrs Walke after the march to address the crowds in a speech, added, I’m so proud of you and so proud of Eastbourne, and so proud of all the political parties, every single one of them, who united at the hip to retain core services in our hospital.
“But I’m angry that we keep having to fight this battle, we’re the fastest growing town in East Sussex.
“What are Darren Grayson and the chairman and the senior managers playing at?
“I tell you one thing, we’re never going to give up.”