HELEN BURTON: More on the effects of cuts to the NHS

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001

Some of the comments I have received about last week’s column have suggested instead of thanking the NHS, I should be writing about the effect of the cuts. I have done so before, on many occasions, however this week I am more than happy to do so again.

In particular, especially as September is gynae health month, my concern that women with gynaecological emergencies can no longer be treated by Eastbourne A&E. I know from personal experience that if you go to A&E at the DGH with a gynae emergency they are not allowed to turn you away. That would look bad. So you go through triage, wait the obligatory three hours (in my case in excruciating pain), only to be told that the doctors at the DGH aren’t allowed to examine you. In my case I was given general antibiotics and told that I couldn’t be examined. I got to my car, burst into tears and phoned my parents. My dad then drove me to the Conquest where I was examined, given painkillers and three different types of antibiotics to deal specifically with my issues. I finally got the care I needed. That was back in January. This week my best friend (who lives with me) was recovering well from her hysterectomy initially, and then on the fifth day something was clearly wrong. We called the ward in Brighton where she had the operation. They told us to call an ambulance and make it clear that my friend needed to be transferred there, for specialist care from the team that understood her complex history and that had performed the operation. When the ambulance crew got here they were great, but they didn’t know where to take her. She needed to go to Brighton. They weren’t allowed to take her there, they were only allowed to take her to the nearest A&E department. One of them said she would have to go to Eastbourne, another reminded him that they won’t treat gynae emergencies there. In the end she was taken to the Conquest and then two days later they had to transfer her to Brighton anyway, as it really was where she needed to be. Instead of being a cost saving it ended up doubling the cost to the NHS, requiring two ambulance journeys instead of one. The situation must change, it’s dangerous. We will be writing to our MP to ask for this issue to be investigated. The cuts that have led to the split in care between two hospitals are endangering women and children in particular, who can no longer receive emergency care at their nearest A&E, which in my opinion is unacceptable. Lastly I just want to thank whoever nominated me for the Eastbourne Achievers Award, it was a massive surprise and great to think that the work I do in the community has been appreciated. Finding out in the same week that Pevensey Volunteers, the project I started in November last year, has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the Sussex Life Services to the Community Award has made a terrible week a little less terrible.