Women and their families who have experienced maternity services at Eastbourne DGH are being asked to share their opinions – in a bid to improve the department.
Healthwatch East Sussex is reviewing maternity services provided by East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which also runs Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the service as ‘inadequate’ in September 2015 – after inspectors found staffing issues, failures to respond to patients’ fears and anxieties, ‘ineffective’ communication and problems with cleanliness checks.
While safety and leadership in the maternity department were rated ‘inadequate’, it received a rating of ‘good’ for being caring.
The trust is now working to improve maternity services, against the concerns raised in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – which is being monitored and managed through a Quality Improvement Plan.
Healthwatch East Sussex has formed a task group of more than 70 volunteers to work with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, to increase patient and public engagement with the trust’s hospitals and contribute to its improvement plan.
Julie Fitzgerald, director for Healthwatch East Sussex, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for not only Healthwatch East Sussex, but for the trust to encourage women and their families to feedback their views and experiences.
“The trust senior managers are being very supportive of the work Healthwatch East Sussex has planned and we welcome their commitment to increasing greater patient engagement.
“It takes a minute to feedback, but the difference can last a lifetime.”
Maternity services at the trust have been scrutinised over the past few years after health bosses agreed to permanently switch consultant-led maternity and paediatric services from Eastbourne to Hastings in June 2014.
The decision was made after health bosses said maintaining ‘safe staffing levels’ over two sites was compromising patient safety.
Since the reconfiguration, Liz Walke, chair of campaign group Save the DGH and Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell have called for the decision to move specialist maternity services to Hastings to be reviewed.
However in October 2015, health bosses said the current configuration was the ‘safest and best’ option for local mothers and babies.
A spokesman for Healthwatch East Sussex said information from the review will be shared with the organisations involved with scrutinising the trust’s improvement Plan.
He added: “We want to understand what worked well for you, and what didn’t work well.”
Healthwatch will not be collecting information on Crowborough birthing centre, which is being transferred to the management of a new provider.
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