Eastbourne’s MP met with the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt this week to raise concerns over maternity and paediatric services at the DGH.
Stephen Lloyd said he was also keen to highlight the hospital trust’s lack of an independent audit over their implementation of the original Independent Reconfiguration Panel recommendations from 2008.
It was six years ago that the IRP blocked proposals for a single site consultant-led maternity provision in East Sussex on the grounds that the road between Hastings and Eastbourne was unsuitable for medical transfers. But in May last year temporary changes saw the DGH became a midwifery-led maternity unit and also the Friston Ward no longer taking children overnight. Since then six options published by the local Clinical Commissioning Groups, which will decide the long term future of how the services will be delivered, do not include consultant-led maternity at both the DGH and Hastings.
Mr Lloyd said the meeting, initially arranged following a question he raised at Prime Minister’s Questions, was designed to highlight the lack of ongoing independent oversight of findings made by the IRP.
During the meeting with the Minister the politician highlighted safety concerns and suggested that there should be measures in place to ensure that the rulings of the IRP are properly audited to ensure robust implementation.
Mr Lloyd said, “It was a positive meeting. I raised the concern that no independent body audits the IRP’s recommendations, and the Secretary of State was very receptive to the problems this may cause, and the need to fix this.
“He went as far to say that the whole system could be undermined if the recommendations of an independent panel are not heeded. We discussed what could be put in place to audit the implementation of IRP recommendations.”