DGH campaigner blasts Trust’s new maternity review

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HEALTH campaigner Liz Walke, who helped win the fight to keep consultant-led maternity services at the DGH has hit out at the NHS amid fears the controversial plans are back on the agenda.

Liz Walke headed the successful Save the DGH drive when the local health trust looked to downgrade either the DGH unit or that of its sister hospital, the Conquest in St Leonards.

The campaign convinced the Secretary of State to back the option which involved keeping both sites open.

But now, three years on, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has ordered a full review of maternity services at the DGH and the Conquest, sparking concerns health bosses may revisit the rejected option.

According to the trust, the purpose of the review is ‘to consider how the service can continue to deliver excellent outcomes and a high quality patient experience, whilst adapting and responding to the needs of the local population and to potential risks to sustainability such as the ongoing difficulties experienced in recruiting staff’.

Mrs Walke though is worried it could represent a new threat to consultant led maternity in Eastbourne.

She urged Herald readers to fill in a questionnaire recently launched by the trust to make sure health chiefs are left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling among local people.

She said, “It is frustrating that we seem to be here again.This should not even be on the agenda, especially so soon after the secretary of state made his ruling.”

And she was quick to criticise the wording of the questionnaire.

“It does not even mention journey times. That was the main issue last time – the need for people to be within half an hour of the department.

“According to the AA, the journey times between the DGH and the Conquest have actually increased.”

Mrs Walke said as many people as possible should complete the survey, making sure they add the concern over journey times in the ‘any other comments’ section at the end.

“Both towns need a consultant led maternity unit. Being able to give birth safely is a basic human right.

“We won this argument before and I see no reason why we cannot again,” she added.

To fill in the questionnaire visit www.esht.nhs.uk/maternity-review-questionnaire. Responses need to be in by Friday, August 26.