MP puts pressure on bosses over plans for trauma units

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HEALTH bosses are being put under the spotlight by the MP for Eastbourne over what he claims are unnecessary plans to centralise two successful trauma units – something he believes could signal a knock-on effect and end with the DGH no longer having an A&E.

Stephen Lloyd cranked up the pressure on management at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust this week by pointing out two of the units earmarked for the chop have both been given specialist status.

The LibDem says the fact that the trauma units in both the DGH and Hastings have been given the accreditation, shows there is no need to centralise them on one site or the other.

And he has been left baffled at the decision to push ahead with plans to do so.

Speaking to the Herald shortly after the Conquest secured the special status, Mr Lloyd pointed to a number of details in the Trust’s own consultation document. He said, “I am pleased our sister hospital in Hastings has also been granted trauma unit status.

“However, there are a couple of issues I need to bring to Eastbourne’s attention: Firstly, on page 35 of the consultation document it says that East Sussex must have one trauma unit, and this should have access to emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedic surgery.

“Secondly, the document also makes clear that the trauma unit would be on one site only and that this would be the site with emergency surgery. What do these points actually mean? Essentially, the Trust intends to remove the on-call general surgery service from one of the two hospitals – Is it to be Eastbourne or Hastings?

“This is a crucial question because there will be no general surgery consultants and no surgical operations at night or on weekends at the downgraded hospital, and I have been informed by clinical advisors that this means the affected hospital will no longer be allowed to keep its Trauma Unit Status. “This accreditation cannot be kept unless it is able to do an operation at any time.

“This is a major change and any way you look at it, is a core service downgrade. Senior local consultants have made it crystal clear to me that when an emergency department loses Trauma Unit Status, it soon becomes a minor injuries unit (MIU). Other domino effects follow, and in a short time the hospital no longer has a primary high functioning A&E unit.”

A spokesman for the Trust, which is consulting on plans to centralise stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics, denied there is any link between the Trauma Unit Status and the future of services on each site.

They said, “The recent accreditation of the Conquest as a Major Trauma Unit and the proposed plans that are being consulted on publicly in the Trust’s clinical strategy are two separate issues and should not be related to each other.

“The provision of A&E services is not dependent on having trauma unit status or emergency and higher risk general surgery and emergency and higher risk orthopaedic surgery. We would, therefore, like to stress that we are fully committed to maintaining A&E services at both hospitals and are aiming to increase the number of A&E consultants on both sites and the number of doctors supporting them.

“Our clinical strategy has been developed to ensure that the Trust is able to deliver sustainable, safe services in the future.”