Hospital boss refuses to answer pathology questions

HOSPITAL bosses have refused, yet again, to answer public concern about dismantling a vital service at the Eastbourne District General Hospital.

Darren Grayson, chief executive of the East Sussex Hospitals Trust which runs the DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings, brushed aside a question from the public about the risks of stripping down diagnostic units in the two hospitals for the second time in so many meetings.

Members of the public were invited to ask the board questions about items on the agenda at the January 26 meeting in the DGH.

Colin Amess, of Willingdon Road, asked if reducing pathology laboratories to a skeleton staff without the ability to diagnosis diseases such as meningitis conflicted with the trust’s aim, set out in the board’s agenda, to ‘deliver rapid diagnosis, treatment and ensure high quality care is available for the critical ill patient 24 hours a day, seven days a week’.

Mr Amess, who wrote to the Herald in December about his concern for patient safety, asked, “Can the chief executive explain how in urgent cases a speciality clinician, for example a consultant microbiologist, will be able to provide the patient with around-the- clock infection diagnostics if the hospital does not retain an ‘on call’ in-house microbiology testing facility?”

Mr Amess also asked if the chief executive had received any representations from consultants imploring him to rethink the removal of the pathlabs’ microbiology testing facilities.

Mr Grayson refused to answer the questions, saying they did not relate to any item on the agenda.

He said, “It would be inappropriate for me to respond. I am happy to say that we will take into account the concerns that have been raised by consultants.”

Senior biomedical scientist Bill Penn tried to raise the issue at December’s board meeting at the Conquest, but his attempt was similarly quashed.

Microbiology staff from both the DGH and Conquest Hospital wrote a letter to Herald in the same month saying patient safety would be at risk if plans went ahead.

The trust, along with two other hospital trusts in Sussex, is expected to rubber-stamp proposals to close down the majority of the DGH and Conquest’s pathology units and relocate to a central hub in the spring.