THE TRUST which runs the DGH says no decision will be made on any large-scale changes without public consultation and is adamant there are no plans to cut A&E at either hospital.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is set to recommend a host of changes to its board as part of a major shake-up in how services are provided at both the DGH and the Conquest in nearby Hastings.
Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne, and health campaigner Liz Walke are concerned these mooted changes could impact on all manner of departments locally - including A&E.
But a spokesman for the trust, which first looked at centralising services back in 2005, says neither town will end up with a downgraded A&E.
The trust has long maintained a move towards providing specialist, consultant-led units at either Eastbourne or Hastings are in line with national guidelines.
And included in the document recommending the controversial changes points to evidence which suggests areas such as stroke care and general surgery can benefit from pooling expertise on one site.
That approach is also, according to the trust’s paperwork, good at reducing infection rates.
Nevertheless, the prospect of losing any services from their doorstep will no doubt alarm the majority of locals, whatever the expert rationale behind it.
Maternity was earmarked for downgrading back in 2005, but a successful vocal campaign convinced the powers that be to turn their backs on the idea.
Now, though, it seems that issue is back on the agenda with the board is likely to be told a single-site, consultant-led unit is the best option.
That would see whichever hospital which misses out left with a midwife-run ward.
The recommendation says, “Centralising consultant-led care for the per cent of women who require the support will improve outcomes for mothers and babies.”
But that is unlikely to wash with the Save The DGH lobbyists who were so opposed to an identical plan less than a decade ago.
A spokesman for the trust said, “Work continues on the development of our clinical strategy which is key for the future sustainability of the health services across East Sussex.
“Led by doctors and nurses, together with local GPs and key stakeholders, including patient representatives, we have considered national best practice and the evidence for delivering safe, quality services that meet the future health needs of our local population and ensure excellent clinical outcomes and patient experience.
“We are determined to ensure we are able to deliver clinically and financially sustainable services for the long term that are of the highest standard possible for our patients.
“As part of the development of these plans we have involved all our local MP’s, including Stephen Lloyd.
“He is aware that any proposals for significant change will be part of a formal public consultation that will be undertaken by NHS Sussex in conjunction with the Clinical Commissioning Groups and the trust.
“As has been pointed out to him they do not include any down- grading of A&E services.
“He, along with everyone else, must want safe and sustainable services for local people that are affordable in the future.”