DGH campaigners vow series of protests

Liz Walke and Save the DGH, Eastbournes
Liz Walke and Save the DGH, Eastbournes

HUNDREDS of people turned up to protest against plans to centralise key services at either the DGH or its sister hospital in Hastings.

Led by Save the DGH campaigner Liz Walke, more than 200 locals gathered outside the Congress Theatre on Saturday, where management from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust were launching its public consultation into the proposals.

The Trust want to focus some of its resources onto one site or the other because, according to its management, it cannot continue to provide the highest level of care at both hospitals.

By centralising stroke services, general surgery and orthopaedics, the Trust says standards will improve and make sure every planned operation goes ahead on time and patients needing diagnosis and treatment will be seen to more quickly,

However, Ms Walke and her band of campaigners believe the opposite is true – that by making patients travel for treatment the trust will be putting lives at risk.

And that was the message they wanted to get across to management at Saturday’s demonstration. It was the first of a planned series of public displays by the Save the DGH team and, according to Ms Walke, it succeeded in making their feelings known.

Speaking about the mooted proposals, Ms Walke said, “These services are needed in an emergency.

“If your standard of life is actually hugely compromised by travelling those distances it’s not worth it.”

Save the DGH will now look to step up its efforts over the coming weeks and months, with a final decision on the plans due by the end of the year.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust thanked everyone who took the time to pop into the consultation and find out more about the scheme.

They said, “We are pleased people took the time to find out more about our proposals for improving these three areas of care.

“Everyone’s views and questions will help us make the decisions. This is about giving people the opportunity to ask questions and take part in the discussion – together we can shape a better future for healthcare in East Sussex.”

Anyone who missed out on Saturday’s event can visit www.esht.nhs.uk/shapingourfuture for consultation details and the time and location of future sessions.

Picture: Liz Walke galvanises protesters outside the Congress Theatre on Saturday.