Residents turned out to a meeting in Lewes on Friday (January 10) where controversial options over how maternity and paediatric services will be delivered in the long term at the DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings were discussed.
The six options, published by the three local East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), do not include consultant-led maternity at both the Eastbourne and the Hastings hospital or in-patient paediatrics at both sites.
The CCG says the options are aimed at achieving safer and better NHS maternity and paediatric services but when Save the DGH campaigner Liz Walke learned of the six options, which also looks at the future of maternity in Crowborough, she called it ‘absolutely appalling’.
At the meeting at County Hall the East Sussex Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), which is made up of East Sussex County Councillors and also includes district and borough councillors in East Sussex and voluntary sector representatives, spoke about the proposals and whether they constitute a substantial change to local health services.
Around 25 members of the public turned out to listen to HOSC discuss the options, which also looks at the future of maternity in Crowborough.
HOSC agreed that the service change proposals do constitute a substantial variation to health service provision and it will now be bringing together evidence in order to put forward recommendations, which could see the matter referred to the Secretary of State.
Eastbourne Borough Councillor John Ungar, who is on the HOSC committee said after the meeting, “We’re gathering evidence so we can prepare a report and recommendations.
“That recommendation could be that the proposals put forward are reasonable and will provide a good service or we have the option of referring it to the Secretary of State.”
If it is the latter then this could see the Secretary of State calling in an independent body to review the matter and make the final decision on the future of the services.
HOSC will be carrying out a review from February until June.
In the meantime, the CCG will be carrying out consultation with the public from January 14 until April 8.
Back in March last year East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said it had been advised by doctors, midwives and nurses, together with the National Clinical Advisory Trust that maternity and paediatric services at that time in East Sussex could do not continue as they were.
NHS bosses went on to back temporary changes to maternity and paediatrics which meant that from the May the DGH became a midwifery-led maternity unit and children could no longer stay overnight in the Friston Ward.