Save the DGH protest team in good voice

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to safegaurd key services at the DGH were buoyed by an encouraging turnout at the first of series of demonstrations.

Liz Walke and her Save the DGH colleagues were out in force on Saturday as East Sussex Healthcare Trust held its first public consultation of controversial plans to centralise stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics at either the DGH or its sister site in Hastings.

They were joined outside the Congress Theatre by more than 200 concerned locals who left the Trust’s management in no uncertain terms as to what they think of the proposals.

Ms Walke was delighted with the turn-out and promised Save the DGH would organise a string of further demonstrations – with a possible attempt at the world record for most people dressed as a doctor or nurse in one place being looked into.

The Herald, which is backing the campaign, has already printed a Save the DGH poster for locals to display and will soon be handing out car stickers with the same message.

Speaking after the demonstration, Ms Walke, who believes concentrating departments at either hospital will prove a disaster, said, “These services are needed in an emergency.

“If your standard of life is actually hugely compromised by travelling those distances it’s not worth it.”

The Trust has long maintained that, far from being a cost-cutting exercise, the potential changes are designed to improve the service people experience.

It says in order to recruit the best consultants in certain fields the hospitals need to merge services to make sure they have the volume of work to attract the top clinicians.

By centralising stroke services, general surgery and orthopaedics, the Trust says standards will improve and ensure every planned operation goes ahead on time and patients needing diagnosis and treatment will be seen to more quickly. And it was happy with the number of people who went along to the weekend’s first consultation.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said, “We are pleased people took time to find out more about our proposals for improving these three areas of care.

“Everyone’s views and questions will help us make the decisions. This is about giving people the opportunity to ask questions and take part in the discussion – together we can shape a better future for healthcare in East Sussex.”

Anyone who missed out on Saturday’s event should visit www.esht.nhs.uk/shapingourfuture for consultation details and the time and location of future sessions.