Deputy Prime Minister steps in over DGH maternity change

DGH sign
DGH sign

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has told Eastbourne’s MP that he will ask the Secretary of State for Health to look into claims that recommendations from leading clinicans over the future of the DGH were not properly looked into.

Liberal Democrat MP, Stephen Lloyd, raised the issue in Parliament yesterday during Prime Minister’s Questions with Mr Clegg standing in for David Cameron, who is currently on business in America.

Mr Lloyd highlighted the 2008 report made by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel over plans by the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to downgrade maternity services at the DGH. The Eastbourne MP told the House of Commons: “The IRP recommendations were, in my view and those of eminent local clinicians, never properly introduced, which has now led to safety issues that, perversely, have enabled the trust to implement the service changes that were originally rejected by the IRP.”

Mr Lloyd ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he would look to address this anomaly and ensure that hospitals implement IRP recommendations robustly, which are audited.

The Deputy Prime Minister paid tribute to the work Mr Lloyd had carried out to defend hospital services at the DGH. He said: “My understanding is that the changes to maternity services at Hastings hospital are temporary and that, of course, no permanent changes will be made without full public consultation.

“He makes an important point about the role of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and I will ask the Secretary of State for Health to discuss the matter furtherwith.”

Earlier, Speaker John Bercow had stepped in by suggesting that this could be the subject of a half-hour adjournment debate, which is usually held at the end of each day’s business in the House of Commons.

Last month, Mr Lloyd secured a Parliamentary debate over the controversial decision to temporarily downgrade maternity services at the DGH, only to admit afterwards that the Department of Health had “let the people of Eastbourne down”.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said that the Department of Health had ‘let the people of Eastbourne’. At the time, Anna Soubry, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, told him that the decision was a ‘local one’.