TODAY is the last day for locals to make their feelings known on plans to reform maternity services at the DGH.
Earlier this year East Sussex Healthcare NHS – which runs the hospital and its sister site in Hastings – has ordered a full review of maternity services, sparking concerns that the previously rejected plans to cut back maternity to just one site were back on the agenda.
Three years ago thousands of people from both towns marched defiantly against the controversial plans, arguing that the lives of mums and their babies would be put at risk by increased journey times.
And it was an argument which eventually proved successful, with the Secretary of State agreeing both hospitals should keep specialist units.
Now though there is the fear that the trust may be gearing up to try and centralise the department again.
Speaking in the Herald earlier this month, health campaigner Liz Walke, who helped win the fight to keep consultant-led maternity services at the DGH, urged readers to fill in a trust survey and demand consultant led services at both hospitals.
The closing date for that feedback is today (Friday), meaning that anyone who has not yet filled in a questionnaire has just hours to do so.
It can be found online at www.esht.nhs.uk/maternity-review-questionnaire and Mrs Walke wants people to make sure they add any concern over journey times in the ‘any other comments’ section at the end – something which was considered a key reason for keeping maternity at both sites but which health bosses have deemed does not warrant its own question in the current survey.
The trust has so far confirmed just that the review is ‘to consider how the service can continue to deliver excellent outcomes and a high quality patient experience, while adapting and responding to the needs of the local population and to potential risks to sustainability such as the ongoing difficulties experienced in recruiting staff’.