Is Eastbourne DGH losing fight for its future?

Norman Baker
Norman Baker

THE LOSS of maternity and cardiology services from Eastbourne DGH is a ‘real prospect’, according to Polegate and Seaford MP Norman Baker.

The MP’s stark warning comes after an hour-long meeting between the Lib Dem MP and Darren Grayson, chief executive of the East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs the DGH.

Mr Baker said, “It is quite clear to me that financial and clinical pressures are likely to lead to a rationalisation of delivery of these key services in East Sussex, and with Brighton a fixed point of delivery, Eastbourne’s relative proximity to Brighton, when compared to that of Hastings, does not bode well.

“I fear we are heading towards a two-tier NHS acute response in East Sussex, with Brighton and Hastings on tier one, and Eastbourne on tier two.

“This raises serious issues for my constituents and begs the question: what has changed since the independent review that rejected the downgrade that the local NHS management now seems to want to try to breathe fresh life into?

“I will steadfastly and strongly oppose any changes that disadvantage my constituents.

The Herald recently revealed the trust had spent more than £4 million on outside financial advice.

Mr Baker said he pressed Darren Grayson on the issue, asking for a breakdown of the work undertaken and an explanation why internal NHS expertise could not have been used.

Mr Baker is one of many people concerned about losing services from Eastbourne DGH.

In September last year, hundreds of people protested outside the hospital and said they would ‘fight tooth and nail’ to protect maternity and cardiology services at the DGH.

Their fight is continuing and Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd will be chairing a meeting in Parliament later this month between Sussex MPs and Liz Walke, chair of the cross-party Save the DGH Campaign.

The meeting will offer the opportunity for Mr Lloyd and Mrs Walke to update local MPs on the latest situation about the future of core services at the DGH and the likely proposals to be announced by the trust regarding maternity and other services in 2012.

Mr Lloyd said, “It is very important we maintain the cross party nature of the ‘Save the DGH’ Campaign, and keep all the other local MPs, whose constituents use the DGH, fully informed.

“So far Charles Hendry MP, Norman Baker MP and Greg Barker MP have all confirmed their attendance.

“This is excellent news, and with Liz Walke giving them a thorough update, they are in good hands.

“We are very likely to have a battle on our hands over the future of some core services at the DGH, and Liz and I are utterly determined to marshall all our resources.”

Mrs Walke added, “I very much welcome the meeting, and I grateful to the local MPs for agreeing to meet with me.

“Their support is vital if we are going to secure the long-term future of core services at the DGH and the Conquest.”

Darren Grayson, chief executive for the trust, said local people should be reassured the trust is completely committed to providing safe, high quality health services to everyone in East Sussex.

He said, “For more than a year we have been working in partnership with primary and social care and representatives of local people on a new plan to deliver safe and sustainable health services over the next five to ten years in East Sussex.

“This has involved substantial stakeholder and public engagement and has received significant media attention.

“In the next few weeks we will be working with GP commissioner colleagues and East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) to decide what aspects of this new plan may need formal public consultation.”