Every single person who protests will be important

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CAMPAIGNERS may be marching against the plans to centralise three hospital services this weekend but not everyone is dead set against the idea.

In fact, a group of local GPs has thrown its weight behind the controversial East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust proposal to have stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics at either the DGH or in Hastings, but not both.

Members of the Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group sent an open letter to the Herald this week in an effort to reassure readers that the changes would not spell the disaster which some people believe they would.

Doctors Martin Writer, Mark Barnes, Jorg Bruuns, Matt Jackson and Michael Vonfraunhofer co-signed the letter, which said, “As local doctors we are adamant that we need to have a vibrant, major hospital site in Eastbourne.

“To do this we need healthcare in East Sussex to be fit for 2012 and beyond, and that means we need to change some things.

“We urge the people of Eastbourne to take the time to consider what these proposals are about.

“They are about how we get the best possible stroke, emergency and higher risk general surgery and emergency and higher risk orthopaedic services in East Sussex.

“These proposals are too easily portrayed as cuts, or as a downgrade to either hospital in East Sussex.

“That is not what this is about; we are trying to improve care in three specialist areas while safeguarding the future of both hospitals.

“We are fortunate to have extremely skilled and dedicated staff working at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

“If we don’t change now we will no longer be able to recruit the best people to work here.

“Creating specialist centres will offer better care for patients and attract new staff by showing people that we have two hospitals looking to the future.

“We also want to create a system which supports our staff to make sure their skills are used in a service which benefits every patient, every day of the year.

“People cannot choose when they become ill and in the current system we simply cannot maintain the best standards for every patient in East Sussex, 365 days a year.

“Healthcare is becoming more specialised.

“Major trauma patients are quite rightly taken long distances to get the care they need after serious car accidents.

“Footballer Fabrice Muamba’s life was saved by travelling past general hospitals to a specialist chest centre after his heart attack.

“The NHS in London has saved 400 lives in a year by centralising stroke care from around 30 general hospitals to eight specialist units.

“Round the country the NHS is facing huge challenge, yet under these proposals we are investing in A&E in Eastbourne and Hastings, while improving three specialist services.

“We are proud to continue to support these proposals which will help us keep a vibrant, major hospital in Eastbourne.”