Health worker flags up strain on ambulance service

Ambulance on call. Posterised image for stock taken in Eastbourne. Dec 15th 2011 E50117
Ambulance on call. Posterised image for stock taken in Eastbourne. Dec 15th 2011 E50117

An NHS worker has criticised changes to services at the DGH after claiming ambulance staff had to transfer three children to other hospitals while there were three outstanding emergency calls.

The member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that on Sunday night two children had to be transferred from the Friston Ward and another child from A&E within an hour, adding, “There were three outstanding emergency jobs with no-one to assign. That means it would have to be assigned to the closest vehicle.

“Sunday was crazy and dangerous as well.”

He said the summer holidays would see an increase in children being transferred to Hastings and that changes to orthopaedics would see more people go over to Hastings with no extra ambulances put on.

In December the health overview and scrutiny committee agreed plans to focus emergency orthopaedic surgery and emergency general surgery at the Conquest in Hastings and these changes are due to come into effect later this year.

The member of staff added, “They [the parents] are told their child is being taken out of Eastbourne and going to Hastings, Brighton or Worthing, it’s awful for the poor parents.”

He said at around midnight on the Sunday two other children from the DGH were taken from A&E - that otherwise would have stayed in the Friston Ward - and were taken to hospital in Worthing.

A South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) spokesperson said, “SECAmb can confirm that it transferred three children from Eastbourne District General to Conquest Hospital during the early evening of Sunday 19 May.

“Each incident was responded to in a timely manner and transfers between hospitals is a role our clinicians perform regularly and safely.

“Throughout any day there are peaks in demand. We work hard to ensure we have the correct resources to meet this demand. On Sunday, across our Eastbourne and Hastings dispatch areas we exceeded national targets by responding to 78 per cent and 79 per cent of Category A calls within eight minutes respectively.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust added, “The trust worked closely with the ambulance service and other partners in the local health economy to establish effective arrangements in response to these changes. Sunday night saw these arrangements being put into action in a timely manner. Two children were transferred to Worthing Hospital later on Sunday night. This is because they both needed to be cared for in a side room.”