Maternity plans in the spotlight

Eastbourne DGH, District General Hospital. July 19th 2013 E30009P
Eastbourne DGH, District General Hospital. July 19th 2013 E30009P

As campaigners anti the downgrading of services at the DGH gear up for a march next month, the community is being urged to share their views on the future of maternity and paediatrics at the Eastbourne hospital.

Residents’ opinions are being sought following the temporary decision to see the DGH become a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit and to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service at the Conquest in Hastings – and close Friston children’s ward overnight. Dr Martin Writer, chair of the Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – one of three CCGs which will decide how maternity and paediatrics are delivered in the long-term and where they are sited – stressed the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.

Dr Writer (pictured above) said since 2008, when maternity services were retained at the town’s hospital after a campaign, “It’s become apparent over the last four, five years those solutions are no longer able to deliver that confidence to be long term sustainable in that particular format.”

Senior doctors, midwives and other health professionals across Sussex have developed a document called Case for Change.

The Case for Change indicates that birth numbers in excess of 2,500 per unit are required to ensure an obstetric-led maternity service can meet the required standards and be safe. Birth rates at the Conquest and DGH were below this in 2012/13. Dr Writer said the European Working Time Directive – which ensures doctors only work a set amount of hours – would also be taken into account. The document also points out that East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust had significantly more serious incidents in maternity than any other Sussex provider in 2012/13.

Dr Writer added if consultant-led maternity was to remain on a single-site – Eastbourne or Hastings – this did not necessarily mean that in-patient paediatrics would also be centralised. “We have to deliver a safe and sustainable service and we can’t escape that,” he said,

Focus groups are being held for new mothers and parents with recent experience of maternity and paediatric services. To register for updates or express an interest in taking part in workshops or focus groups email: HRCCG.Betterbeginnings@nhs.net

A survey can be found at: www.eastbournehailshamandseafordccg.nhs.uk