DGH: health campaigners will discuss a new strategy

Save the DGH march along Eastbourne seafront Saturday 15th September 2012 E38160N'Liz Walke speaks at the rally on the Wish Tower slopes.
Save the DGH march along Eastbourne seafront Saturday 15th September 2012 E38160N'Liz Walke speaks at the rally on the Wish Tower slopes.

The woman behind the high profile campaign to retain services at the DGH back in 2008 said supporters need to fight the latest plans ‘like they were going to win’.

Liz Walke, who is ‘absolutely outraged’ after it was agreed to downgrade maternity services at the Eastbourne hospital last week, is meeting with her Save the DGH colleagues tomorrow (Saturday) to look at a new strategy at challenging the latest decision by NHS bosses.

Last week the East Sussex NHS Trust said it had been advised by doctors, midwives and nurses, together with the National Clinical Advisory Trust that the current maternity and paediatric services in East Sussex cannot continue as they are at present.

Mrs Walke, who is chairman of the group, said, “We need to fight this like we’re going to win.

“The fear that has been put into women living in Eastbourne and the surrounding area is absolutely huge.”

A preferred option to leave the DGH with a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit alongside enhanced ambulatory paediatric care, with other services such as neonatal and a consultant-led obstetric service based at the Conquest in Hastings, was agreed at last Friday’s meeting. The plans are a temporary measure but a permanent solution needs to be in place in 18 months.

The downgrading of the maternity services was fiercely fought by Save the DGH campaigners and they won their battle to retain services at the DGH five years ago.

Mrs Walke believes that the permanent solution will be the removal of all the maternity services at the DGH and fears a domino effect will lead to all the core services at the DGH going.

The news om maternity comes months after the board of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust voted 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.

The mum-of-four said the group would also be exploring ways in looking at reversing that decision.

She said, “We need to make sure that if people cannot get to hospital on time that we know about what’s happened. We need to know about adverse outcomes as a result of travelling. Our focus will be on strategy and we need to think outside the box.

“At the meeting [on Friday] they were talking about doctors and they’re safety but not about the babies possibly having serious outcomes and not getting there on time, that was not mentioned.

“We want a midwife-led maternity unit on both sites with consultants.

“Minutes matter when a woman is haemorrhaging.”