DGH campaigners meet Health Secretary

Save the DGH campaigners went to Whitehall last night (January 15) to meet Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over downgrading services.

The meeting comes after the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) agreed controversial plans to focus emergency orthopaedic surgery and emergency general surgery at the Conquest in Hastings – a move which would see an average of 15 patients a day have to travel between the two sites.

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

Stephen Lloyd met Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to discuss the matter and was joined by local health champion Liz Walke and the two clinical advisors Dr John Clarke and Dr Vincent Argent, who have been advising the Save the DGH campaign.

Mr Lloyd said, “We put together a document covering the letter from the Consultants Advisory Committee at the DGH which made it very clear that they did not believe the trust management proposals were in the best interests of local patients.

“We also included the survey results of consultants, where more than 90 of our senior clinicians opposed the managers’ plans, along with 42 local GPs.

“As well as that, the document included supporting letters from the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, our local council, across the party lines, and the result of the petition where 37,000 local residents supported our battle against core service downgrades.

“Jeremy Hunt listened carefully to what we had to say. He said he would be contacting NHS Sussex to get their perspective and promised to get back to me as soon as possible with a response.”

Mr Lloyd explained the campaign group’s main objections to the plans remained unchanged.

He added, “The quality of the road between the DGH and the Conquest means fast transfers are impossible, the cost and difficulty for relatives travelling to the Conquest to visit their loved-ones is a real barrier and finally, when we have such a strong clinical disagreement with the managers’ plans, surely it is only right and sensible to allow a properly qualified independent body, such as the IRP, to make a decision of such vital importance to the local community.”