Maternity debate taken to Parliament

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Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said he did not feel the points he raised in Parliament over the controversial decision to temporarily downgrade maternity services at the DGH were ‘adequately addressed’ by the government.

Mr Lloyd secured a Parliamentary debate in the House of Commons about the unpopular decision to create a stand alone midwifery-led unit at the DGH and to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service at the Conquest in Hastings. He told the Commons last Thursday (April 18) night that the people of Eastbourne ‘are being failed’.

Anna Soubry, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, told him that the decision was a ‘local one’.

She said, “I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Stephen Lloyd) on securing this debate. Given that no doubt many people in his constituency will, I hope, read all my speech and all the comments I make, it is very important that I make a number of matters very clear.

“As I am confident that he knows extremely well, this decision does not lie with the Department of Health. When he asks me a series of questions, which of course I am more than happy to answer, he must know, and those reading or listening to this speech must know, that these decisions are local decisions.”

She later went on to say, “I am told that the trust has been experiencing challenges in recruiting doctors for the specialties associated with obstetric and paediatric services.

“This has been followed by advice the trust has recently received from local clinicians and the national clinical advisory team. That advice, I am told, indicates that the trust’s current maternity and paediatric services cannot continue as they are.”

Yesterday (Monday) Mr Lloyd told the Gazette, “I made my concerns about maternity and paediatric services in East Sussex very clear to the Minister during the debate, where I again called for the resignation of the chief executive and chair of the trust, Mr Grayson and Mr Welling.

“However, I do not feel the government adequately addressed the points I raised, or allayed the fears of residents of Eastbourne and surrounding areas about this whole sorry mess, so I have written to the Minister to clearly lay out my specific demands.

“Firstly, I want to ascertain who is responsible for ensuring the IRP recommendations on maternity in 2007 were properly implemented. Secondly, how have maternity services at the DGH become to be deemed unsafe and thirdly why are Mr Grayson and Mr Welling still in their posts when they have presided over this debacle.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust added, “The temporary changes to maternity services are being made purely on the grounds of safety. They have the full support of all the Trust’s Consultant Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and senior midwives, who believe, based on the evidence, that these changes will deliver a safer service for local women and babies. It is a matter of safety.”