“At risk of catastrophes and serious failure”

Top doctors at the DGH have warned that services for children are ‘unsafe’ – and that it is at risk of ‘catastrophes and serious failure’.

The damning statement by nine consultant paediatricians comes just two weeks after the controversial changes which included children no longer being able to stay overnight for treatment in the Friston Ward.

The group has contacted MPs including Eastbourne’s Stephen Lloyd and the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, calling on them to help restore safe paediatric services to Eastbourne.

The letter read, ‘It is our united view that the paediatric service, although not perfect, was not unsafe but as reconfigured is now unsafe and there is the risk of serious failure’.

In the letter the senior clinicians – Keith Brent, Imad Boles, Padmani de Silva, Geetha Gopal, John Mitchell, Veronica Leclezio, Melanie Liebenberg, John Somarib and Maggie Wearmouth – said, ‘We advised the chief executive that if acceptable safety could not be restored that we had duties to our patients, our local population, our profession, our regulators and the law to take our concerns outside the trust to seek a resolution.

“We were assured that urgent steps would be taken by the end of last week.

“In our view, the minimal steps which have been taken are inadequate and incidents with patients over the last few days, in our view, confirm the seriousness of the situation. The acute paediatric service in East Sussex is unsafe and is at risk of catastrophes and serious failure.”

Mr Lloyd praised the group’s courage in coming forward, adding, “When such senior clinicians say ‘acute paediatric services are unsafe and at risk of catastrophes and serious failure’ then the hospital board must listen. So far it appears these concerns have, incredibly, been brushed aside.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said, “During the planning phase and more recently the Trust’s senior doctors and management have met with the consultant paediatricians at Eastbourne to understand the issues underlying their concerns.

“ We have taken appropriate and immediate actions to address the issues raised and further improve the safety of the service.

“We have also taken the views of clinicians both internally and externally including the lead doctor for paediatrics across Sussex on whether we have appropriate policies and arrangements in place. There is no evidence that it will be safer to revert to providing the inpatient service on two sites.”