The woman behind the campaign to stop the downgrading of maternity services at the DGH has said it is an ‘absolute disgrace’ that hospital bosses Darren Grayson and Stuart Welling have refused to resign.
Liz Walke, chairman of the Save the DGH group, said the pair - chief executive and chairman of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust respectively had ‘no shame’ after learning that they had ‘no intention’ of standing down.
Mr Welling made the comments on Wednesday this week. Meanwhile a Facebook group set up by a Save the DGH campaigner calling on the pair and the board that run the hospital to step down has been backed by more than 2,000 people.
Anger has mounted in the community after the decision was made to go along with the preferred option which was to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service, neonatal service (including Special Care Baby Unit), have in-patient paediatric service and emergency gynaecology service at the Conquest hospital only and establish a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit alongside enhanced ambulatory paediatric care at the DGH.
Mrs Walke said, “They should do the decent thing, they have been trying for a long time to put certain things in place for single site maternity which is hugely dangerous for the women in this area. Paediatrics is also unforgiveable for people that have children that are very sick, I think it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and Polegate MP Norman Baker have also joined the growing call for the pair to go with Mr Lloyd telling the Herald last week, “I feel the chief executive and chairman have failed to serve our hospital well, they need to consider their position and step down.”
But during a trust board meeting this week Mr Welling said that he and Mr Grayson had ‘no intention’ of stepping down, adding, “I remain convinced we made the right decision because we cannot put mothers and babies at risk.”
In response Mrs Walke said, “I think it’s an absolute disgrace but they have no shame.
“My view is that these two going would be a good start and so should anyone else that is not interested in how people get to a hospital in an emergency.”
A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said, “The Board of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust have made it very clear that the service changes agreed on the 8th March are temporary and that a strategic and long term solution will need to be agreed within 18 months through a process of engagement and if necessary formal public consultation which will be led by the local Clinical Commissioning Groups.
“The Board is also clear that the previous process undertaken by the local health and social care system in 2007 to develop proposals for the reconfiguration of maternity and paediatric services was flawed and resulted in an outcome which could not be approved by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) and has proved not to be deliverable.
“The Trust has set out in detail the attempts that have been made to ensure the service can be staffed safely and why these attempts have not been successful.
“It is important to note that one of the critical factors affecting the ability to recruit doctors is the level of experience that can be offered to them in a small unit which does not provide a sufficient range and volume of work for them to develop and maintain their skills.
“In addition the view of the external National Clinical Advisory Team is that ‘small services such as this could only be justified in a very remote rural location which this certainly is not’ should be noted.
“The decision made by the Board was fully informed by clinicians both from the Trust and externally who are of the view based on evidence that the changes will deliver a safer service for local women and babies.”