THE HEAD of the Save the DGH campaign team has issued a rallying call to parents whose children have been born at the DGH in the last six years.
Liz Walke is hoping thousands of people will attend a planned protest march next Saturday against NHS proposals to centralise stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics at either the DGH or its sister site in Hastings.
She is especially keen for anyone who has had a baby born at the local hospital since a similar march proved successful in defeating plans to centralise maternity on just one site to attend.
Speaking ahead of the September 15 seafront demo, Ms Walke said, “If NHS managers had had their way in 2006 Eastbourne DGH’s maternity unit would have been downgraded, but we, the people, marched in our thousands, and stopped this from happening.
“We have got to do this again. It would be absolutely fantastic and a real boost to see all those babies born in the DGH since 2006 marching with us. To think, especially if they had to have any medical intervention while in labour, these women would have had to have gone to Hastings. And in some of those circumstances the outcomes may have been very different.
“We have got to fight and by marching we can show the strength of feeling against these plans.
“If thousands march, the local NHS will have to listen.”
Ms Walke said that the appearance of the people who directly benefited from the march against maternity cuts in 2006 will provide a timely reminder for others that if enough people stand shoulder to shoulder with the Save the DGH team, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust can be forced into an about turn.
“We showed last time what we could achieve,” she added, “anyone who is perhaps wondering whether or not to come along should remember what effect having such a big turn-out had last time.
“An awful lot of children have been born in Eastbourne which might not have been had we not all joined together before. That shows things like this can work.”
The NHS Trust is currently consulting with locals over the plans and says a single site option for each specialist department would actually improve standards because it would allow the Trust to recruit higher skilled consultants.
Save the DGH though believes forcing patients to travel to a different town for treatment will put lives at risk.
Anyone who wants to join the protest march should head to the Redoubt fortress at 10am on September 15.