Decision setback for Save the DGH capaign team

Hosc meeting
Hosc meeting

The decision to move emergency orthopaedic and general surgery to the Conquest in Hastings has been described as ‘outrageous’ by the town’s MP.

Stephen Lloyd, who has fought with fellow Save the DGH campaigners, made the comments after the health and overview scrutiny committee (HOSC) backed NHS plans.

The decision was made by the committee at County Hall in Lewes on Thursday afternoon, leaving the coach -load of Save the DGH campaigners who attended the meeting and protested outside crushed by the decision.

They were also disappointed their 37,000-strong petition to keep core services at Eastbourne DGH was ignored by the majority of councillors on the committee, who voted seven votes to five to move provide emergency orthopaedic and general surgery only at the Conquest at Hastings.

HOSC members also voted that acute stroke services should be provided only at Eastbourne DGH.

Stephen Lloyd said, “ I think it is an outrageous decision.

“The campaign group will now be meeting the secretary of state in the very near future.”

Mr Lloyd said the committee should have referred the decision to an independent body and added, “The fact they didn’t flies in the face of logic and we will continue to do everything in our power to stop this in its tracks.”

Cllr David Tutt, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, who has long supported the cross-party Save the DGH campaign, said, “We will be taking legal advice, as a campaign group, on our next steps and will be looking seriously towards a judicial review.”

This week Liz Walke, Save the DGH campaigner, confirmed the campaigners would not be giving up the fight and were seeking legal advice.

At the meeting, NHS bosses said there had been a misconception among the public in Eastbourne that the DGH was closing. Darren Grayson, chief executive of the trust, suggested this was why there was so many signatures on the petition.

After the meeting Mrs Walke said this was ‘despicable’ and added, “I am sure this swayed some of the councillors and it is completely false.

“We have never, ever suggested the hospital is closing and I don’t know where that came from.”

The meeting in Lewes last week was East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust final hurdle to overcome and the changes will now go ahead.

The chair of the committee Cllr Rupert Simmons proposed both the motions and said he was doing so ‘in the best interests of health services for East Sussex’.

NHS bosses at the meeting said specialist centres were what was needed for East Sussex. They said the ‘Shaping the Future’ proposals before the committee would ensure improved healthcare for East Sussex. Mr Grayson said London and other parts of the NHS had done the same and said East Sussex needed to ‘catch up’.

A spokesperson for the NHS in East Sussex said they were pleased with the decision made by HOSC .

The spokesperson said, “We believe it will deliver better results for patients, better access to expert clinicians and better recovery rates.

“It will help us to keep two vibrant, major hospital sites in Eastbourne and in Hastings and ensure healthcare in East Sussex is fit for 2012 and beyond.”