Campaigners issue new call to arms over hospital plans - demo planned for Saturday

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HEALTH campaigner Liz Walke today issues a call to arms to local people who do not want to see the DGH lose vital services.

Together with her Save the DGH campaign team, Ms Walke will be outside the Congress Suite, next to the Congress Theatre, tomorrow (Saturday) and she wants as many people as possible to join them.

The Herald revealed earlier this year that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was looking to centralise a string of services at either the DGH or its sister hospital in Hastings.

Ms Walke, who is backed by the town’s MP Stephen Lloyd, believes the trust’s management could be about to embark on a string of cost-cutting exercises which, if not opposed, could see Eastbourne end up with little more than a cottage hospital.

The trust denies this but has started consultation on proposals to have stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics on one site or the other.

And Ms Walke and her colleagues plan on sending the decision makers a powerful message from outside the Congress Suite, where public consultation gets underway in earnest tomorrow.

Management at the trust are also hopeful large numbers of people will turn up, because they are confident that, when armed with the full facts, people will see the exercise is about improving the services, not cutting them.

Dr Andy Slater, the trust’s medical director, said, “We want every operation to go ahead on time as planned.

“We want every patient needing unplanned diagnosis and treatment to be seen and treated swiftly by skilled and expert doctors. We want everybody who has had treatment to get the right support afterwards to enable a strong recovery in good time.

“These goals are not currently achievable and we want to change that.”

The consultation will run from 10.30am until 1pm and more information is available online at www.esht.nhs.uk.

Ms Walke though wants people to arrive half an hour earlier and get into the protest spirit before the bigwigs arrive.

She said, “We would like as many people as possible to stand with us to fight against any proposals to downgrade.

“Babies don’t wait, strokes need urgent scans, heart attacks need urgent treatment and quick diagnosis and treatment is crucial in the shortest possible time.”