Campaign gets MP’s backing

Norman Baker MP at the ' Welcome of Southern franchise' at Eastbourne Station. E39127K
Norman Baker MP at the ' Welcome of Southern franchise' at Eastbourne Station. E39127K

THE MP for Polegate and Seaford has backed the Herald’s campaign to stop the NHS centralising key services at either the DGH or The Conquest in Hastings.

Norman Baker is a parliamentary under secretary for the Department for Transport and is well known for his outspoken views on a host of contentious issues.

And he has joined the growing list of people speaking out against controversial plans to concentrate stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics at either of the two main hospitals in East Sussex.

Mr Baker said, “Elderly people who have fallen over facing longer trips to hospital, emergency surgery delayed, stroke victims facing longer journeys to get treated and pregnant women giving birth in ambulances – these are the potential consequences for residents of Seaford and Polegate if the planned changes go ahead.

“The consequence of such a change will mean that the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton will now become the closest hospital for residents of Seaford. Residents of Polegate will, on the other hand, be forced to go to the Conquest, nearly ten miles further than Eastbourne, along the slow A259.

“While I understand that no decision has been made publicly yet on where the changes will be made, with Brighton a fixed point of delivery and Eastbourne’s relative proximity to Brighton, when compared to that of Hastings, it does not bode well for retaining these important services at the DGH.

“I appreciate that the Trust is under some financial and clinical pressures, but we simply cannot have a two- tier health system where those who live in Hastings and Brighton get a good service and those who rely on Eastbourne getting the short end of the stick.

“I have made my feelings very clear in my letter to the chief executive of the Trust, Darren Grayson, that key services at the DGH must be retained and I would encourage constituents, particularly, in Seaford and Polegate, to do the same.”

For its part the Trust has always maintained the mooted moves are aimed at improving the standard of care rather than balancing the books.

The Trust says that as it stands it cannot recruit top level consultants to key posts because neither hospital has the level of patient numbers needed for high skilled experts to maintain their clinical skills.

The Save the DGH campaign team has promised to fight the plans and is holding a seafront march on September 15. Organisers want as many people as possible to head to the Redoubt for the 10am start.