Out in the Field with chief reporter Annemarie Field: The prospect of going into labour is scary enough without facing a 21-mile journey

IT’S TRULY horrifying news that the powers that be at Eastbourne DGH are even thinking about closing the maternity unit and Special Care Baby Unit.

It would mean that pregnant women from Eastbourne would have to hotfoot it along the Highway to Hell that is the A259 road to Hastings to give birth.

The prospect of going into labour is scary enough without worrying whether you and your precious load are going to make the 21-mile journey.

And then what happens if a pregnant mother needs a Caesarean section? Eleven years ago at the DGH when I was with child, my waters broke, my baby boy’s heart rate was dropping like a stone and it became very clear very quickly that I would need a C-section.

Before I knew it, I was whisked into theatre and the wonderful team of professionals had him “out of the sunroof”.

Had I been told that I would have to make the pig of a journey to Hastings, I would have been absolutely terrified that either he or I would meet our maker on the A259. Then in the first few days of his little life – while we were being cared for at the DGH – my little boy started having seizures and was taken straight into the Special Care Baby Unit, the staff of which I will never be able to thank enough. Numerous tests followed for brain damage and he was so poorly that at one point our Catholic priest offered to baptise him as he lay in his tiny cot connected to tubes.

What kept me going though was the fact that I was surrounded not only by the wonderful staff but by friends and family in Eastbourne, who were able to visit us because we were at the DGH, and I could nip home for a break.

Had we been in Hastings, it would have been pretty lonely.

Thankfully my son recovered. But what about those other mothers who might have to go through what we went through – in Hastings and miles away from home?

The trust which runs both the DGH and Conquest has already been told that closing a maternity unit would be dangerous for pregnant women.

They could also look to the fact that Eastbourne is a growing town and, like Hastings, needs its own maternity and special care units. It’s common sense. Surely?

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AS TRULY wonderful as the Spring into Action Charity Ball was – to raise much-needed cash for a piece of kit for the intensive care unit at the DGH – the other weekend, isn’t it a shame the health trust can’t come up with the cash from its coffers? The machine costs £127,00 and will mean nurses don’t have to spend hour after hour manually recording their patients’ vital signs and free them up to do what they should be doing – good old-fashioned nursing and looking after their patients and their relatives. It really is a holy show when you think not one but two chief executives have waltzed out of the doors of the hospital with hundreds of thousands of pounds in severance pay...