Emergency surgery moving out of the DGH in December

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Emergency and high risk surgery is to be based at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings from next month.

Patients from Eastbourne who need an urgent operation will have to travel almost 20 miles to the hospital on The Ridge.

Bosses from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both the DGH and the Conquest, voted to centralise emergency general surgery at the Conquest in November last year which was rubber-stamped by NHS Sussex.

At a meeting of the trust’s board members on Wednesday (November 27) Richard Sunley, the organisation’s deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, announced the service will finally move to Hastings on December 14 and 15.

The plans by local health bosses first came to the fore in the middle of last year when they announced proposals to centralise emergency general surgery and orthopaedics at the Conquest and base specialist stroke care at the DGH.

General surgery deals with abdominal organs, such as the stomach and intestines.

Campaigners from both Save the DGH and Hands off the Conquest voiced opposition to the plans, saying both hospitals needed to keep all of their core services. They said the road infrastructure between Eastbourne and Hastings was poor and congested and feared patients’ lives could be put at risk. Up to 2,000 people signed petitions in protest against the proposals when they were announced. Members of the Save the DGH group launched legal proceedings to push for a judicial review on the proposals but in March campaigners announced it was abandoning the move, saying the risk of failure was too high.

Mr Sunley said, “The delivery of this move will maintain the safety and quality of the emergency and high general surgical service, which would otherwise be at risk due to unsustainable consultant medical staff and nurse staffing rotas.”

He said if the changes are not implemented nurse staffing levels at the DGH would not be sustainable from early next month and there would be a reduction in staffed ward beds and a drop in activity.

Trust managers believe the changes will improve the level of healthcare and reduce the number of cancelled operations.