The Save the DGH group has issued a rallying call to locals as it prepares an 11th hour bid to stop NHS management from concentrating two key services 20 miles away in Hastings.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has just one further hurdle to overcome before it can push ahead with controversial plans to focus emergency orthopaedic surgery and emergency general surgery at the Conquest – a move which would see an average of 15 patients a day have to travel between the two sites.
A health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) meets to discuss the move on December 13 and the hope is that if Save the DGH can gather enough public support, the members of the board may be convinced to refer the eventual decision to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
It was at this stage in 2007 that much-maligned plans to centralise maternity services was kiboshed and campaigners are keeping their fingers crossed for a similar outcome.
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and Save the DGH chairman Liz Walke have already written to HOSC asking it to refer the proposals to the secretary of state. Now they are calling on residents to back them in their fight by signing a new petition.
Mr Lloyd said, “Now the proposals have been confirmed, it is extremely important we once again show we are united in opposing them. Today we face losing orthopaedics and general surgery, but very shortly other departments will follow and it is quite likely the DGH will no longer be a fully fledged district general hospital in anything but name.”
Petitions will soon be put up in businesses and venues across Eastbourne to go with the shop in the Arndale Centre. And people can sign an online version by going to www.savethedgh.org.uk.
Chief among concerns are increased journey times, extra pressure being put on the ambulance service, poor road links and the possibility that changes could lead to a domino effect.