Eastbourne maternity changes 'must never happen again', says Lewes MP

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield

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Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has backed a bill designed to prevent NHS trusts closing services without public consultation, in response to the loss of maternity services at Eastbourne DGH.

The proposed bill, which was put forward by Conservative MP for North Oxfordshire Victoria Prentis in response to the loss of maternity services at a hospital in her constituency, is designed to prevent NHS trusts from making any major changes to its services without public scrutiny.

A former NHS nurse, Ms Caulfield said she was backing the bill as it would ensure the changes made to Eastbourne DGH's maternity services in 2014 could not happen in the same way in future.

She said: "I was delighted to be able to support Victoria Prentis in presenting this Ten Minute Rule Motion, and will support her in the Chamber on the January 27 for its second reading.

“It is really important that the public are consulted on changes that could have a very real impact upon their lives.We saw, before I was elected, sweeping changes to local maternity services that were moved from Eastbourne to Hastings, despite people voicing genuine concern.

"This must never happen again and it is why I have put my name to this bill which will give a greater voice to my constituents.”

The bill was presented on Tuesday (October 26) as a ten-minute rule motion and was supported by 11 MPs, including Ms Caulfield. They hope to get further support for the bill at its second hearing in January and to eventually see it passed into law.

If successful, the Lewes MP says, it will increase the accountability of local trusts and commissioning authorities, ensuring that public consultations are part of the process when major changes are proposed.

Eastbourne's consultant-led maternity unit and paediatric services were moved to Hastings by East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in 2014 despite widespread criticism of the decision.

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