Trust criticised for playing ‘old divide and rule game’

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THE head of the county council has launched a scathing attack on the NHS trust which runs the DGH – accusing bosses of “failing the people miserably”. Councillor Peter Jones let rip on upper levels of management at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust at a meeting this week, publicly criticising the way it seems to play the DGH off against the Conquest.

Speaking before the latest controversial plans came to light, Cllr Jones (pictured) said, “They [the trust] have played the classic old game of divide and rule, trying to set Eastbourne against Hastings, defend one hospital against the other, drop one service a one hospital for dropping another at another hospital.”

And he reserved particular scorn for the chief executive Darren Grayson and trust chairman Stuart Welling. “Every year for the last 10 years I have heard the chairman and the chief executive of the hospital trust tell me about how they are going to sort it out and how their latest plans would deliver quality healthcare and that they would reduce or eliminate their financial deficit. Every year they have failed to do it.

“On the basis of my 11 years of experience I have absolutely no confidence in the chairman, chief executive or board of East Sussex Healthcare Trust to deliver the quality of health service needed by the people of this county.”

The attack could not have been worse timed for the trust, coming as it did days before details of proposed changes to maternity and other key services emerged. Both the DGH and its sister site in Hastings were on the receiving end of poor Care Quality Commission reports and the trust is also battling to bring its finances under control.

Mr Grayson and Mr Welling responded - although neither raised the point Cllr Jones may be timing his outburst to curry favour with voters in the run-up to what he hopes will be a successful tilt at the prized position of elected commissioner for Sussex Police. Mr Grayson said, “The plans East Sussex Healthcare has been working on for sometime have been led by doctors and nurses together with local GPs.

“The emerging plans are about enabling East Sussex Healthcare provide excellent services over the next five to 10 years within the available resources. Local government, in the form of adult social care, have been involved in working up these plans and have been supportive.

“The trust balanced its books last year (2011-12) and anticipates doing so this year and in all future years.

“To do so, we have to make some substantial improvements and changes to the way services work to improve quality and efficiency in common with the rest of the NHS and indeed the whole public sector.