HOSPITAL bosses are launching an internal consultation with midwifery staff after admitting that current facilities are unsustainable and unsafe.
The consultation is due to start on June 22 and lasts for 90 days, with staff involved in forums and meetings.
A DGH spokesperson said, “Staff’s views will be taken into account before the final proposal for the new ways of working are agreed.”
Despite initially rubbishing media speculation that a maternity unit in Eastbourne or Hastings could close, managers ordered a four-month independent review and say they are keeping an open mind on any changes.
The spokesperson added, “The Trust is commencing an internal staff consultation with midwifery and support staff to review skill mix and working practices so that we can create a robust, efficient and flexible workforce capable of implementing midwifery led models of care as recommended by Maternity Matters.
“The aim of the consultation is to ensure that staff work in a way that is flexible and adaptable.
“This new way of working will use our skills and resources more effectively to optimises safety, quality and the experience of care for women using our maternity services.”
Campaigners against maternity closures said they were ‘baffled’ by the new review, as a 2008 review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) found it was safer for expectant mothers if both units at Eastbourne DGH and Conquest stayed open.
Chief executive of the NHS Trust, which runs the two hospitals, Darren Grayson, said, “Despite the investment of considerable time and effort as well as additional funding in the Maternity Strategy put in place to deliver the IRP recommendation, we continue to experience challenges in providing maternity services in the current model.
“The Trust board remains open-minded to the best and safest way of ensuring we can continue to provide high quality care for mothers and babies. But it is clear we cannot carry on as we are in the long term.”
The DGH spokesperson added, “It is important to stress that this consultation will not result in any job losses.
“Undertaking this consultation at this stage does not pre-suppose the outcome of the independent maternity review as the consultation will result in new ways of working for maternity.”