D-day looming for key DGH services

Patients from Eastbourne could soon have to travel to Hastings for vital treatment after hospital management voted to centralise two key services in 1066 Country.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s board of directors voted on Thursday to push ahead with controversial plans to concentrate orthopaedics and general surgery at the Conquest rather than Eastbourne’s DGH – much to the dismay of campaigners.

Liz Walke and Stephen Lloyd, who head the Save the DGH group, reiterated their concerns that such a move could put lives at risk – but their please fell on deaf ears and the Trust will now take its proposals to NHS Sussex next week for approval.

Specialist stroke care, which was the third department earmarked for a shake-up, will remain at the DGH although that was of little comfort to the Save the DGH lobby.

Outlining the argument in favour of the changes, the Trust’s medical director Andrew Slater and its chief executive Darren Grayson both maintained standards of care would actually improve under the mooted reorganisation.

And Mr Grayson revealed that, far from being driven by cost-cutting, the option being pursued for stroke care would actually see additional investment in the service.

However, the Trust’s financial team did admit that the changes would lead to significant savings overall.

Speaking after the three hour meeting, Mr Lloyd said, “This is a dark day for Eastbourne. People will now have to travel significant extra distances for emergency care and I am baffled the Trust is pushing ahead with these plans despite huge public and professional opposition.”

If NHS Sussex backs the Trust’s proposals the last hurdle for the plans will be convincing members of a health and overview scrutiny group which could, in theory, refer the decision to health minister Jeremy Hunt.

See next week’s Herald for in-depth reaction.