Maternity changes to get under way in May

Save the DGH march
Save the DGH march

Controversial changes to maternity at the DGH are due to come into effect in early May.

The decision to see the Eastbourne hospital become a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit and to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service at the Conquest in Hastings was made earlier this month and the issue was discussed at a trust board meeting on Wednesday.

During the meeting Darren Grayson, chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, together with chairman Stuart Welling, vowed they will not step down from their positions after angry campaigners called for their resignation following the controversial decision to base the consultant-led maternity unit at the Conquest and turn Eastbourne DGH’s into one led by midwives.

Bosses at the trust, which runs both hospitals, said the date it is working towards for consultant-led obstetric services, neonatal (including the Special Care Baby Unit), in-patient paediatric and emergency gynaecology services to be based at the Conquest is Tuesday May 7.

They said it is a temporary measure, expected to last around 18 months.

Earlier this month the trust said that it had been advised by doctors, midwives and nurses, together with the National Clinical Advisory Team that maternity and paediatric services at both hospitals could not continue in their present format, due to safety reasons.

The unpopular decision was made on March 8, much to the anger of campaigners from both Save the DGH and Hands off the Conquest.

Both groups had fought against similar proposals in 2008 when the then Secretary of State overturned NHS bosses’ plans.

Campaigners cited poor road infrastructure between Hastings and Eastbourne and added the latest move could potentially put mothers and babies at risk.

Mr Welling said at Wednesday’s trust board meeting, “Darren and I have no intention of standing down. I remain convinced we made the right decision because we cannot put mothers and babies at risk.”

Mr Grayson said, “I am delighted with the response we have had from our staff on the changes, as it has been greeted with unanimous support. They agree that this is the sensible and safe thing to do.

“The decision, however controversial, was the right one.”