DGH verdict should be made at the very top

Campaigners want the final decision on whether three key hospital services are centralised to be made by the health secretary.

Later this month East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust will present its proposals for the future of stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics to the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC).

It is expected that the Trust will suggest concentrating the services at either the DGH or its sister site in Hastings and the Save the DGH campaign group wants the last word to fall to Jeremy Hunt – the Government’s head of health.

HOSC, which is made up of councillors from across East Sussex, has the power to refer proposals to reconfigure the provision of health care to the secretary of state, who would in turn refer the changes to an independent panel.

And it was precisely HOSC’s decision to refer the proposal to single site maternity services at the Conquest Hospital in 2007/08 which led to the proposals being blocked.

Eastbourne’s MP Stephen Lloyd has played a key part in fighting the controversial plans and said this week, “It is crucial we get these proposals reviewed by the highest health authority in the land and it is also crucial councillors on HOSC realise the potential consequences of their decision.”