Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said that the Department of Health had ‘let the people of Eastbourne’ down as he delivered a speech in Parliament over the controversial decision to temporarily downgrade maternity services at the DGH.
Mr Lloyd secured a Parliamentary debate in the House of Commons about the unpopular decision to create a stand alone midwifery-led unit at the DGH and to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service at the Conquest in Hastings.
He told the Commons last Thursday night that Eastbourne foregoing its consultant-led maternity was ‘absolutely outrageous’.
Anna Soubry, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, told him that the decision was a ‘local one’.
She said, “I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Stephen Lloyd) on securing this debate. Given that no doubt many people in his constituency will, I hope, read all my speech and all the comments I make, it is very important that I make a number of matters very clear.
“As I am confident that he knows extremely well, this decision does not lie with the Department of Health. When he asks me a series of questions, which of course I am more than happy to answer, he must know, and those reading or listening to this speech must know, that these decisions are local decisions.”
She went on to say, “My hon. Friend is fully aware that the trust has confirmed, as I have said, that this is a temporary change and, indeed, that a strategic and long-term solution will need to be agreed within 18 months. It is also important to remind hon. Members that I am told that the process will be led by local general practitioners and what we now call local clinical commissioning groups.”
He said “I was disappointed with the Minister’s response because she failed to adequately address my concerns about the downgrade to maternity and paediatrics, and how it is we’ve found ourselves in this deplorable situation.
“I made it clear in my speech to the Minister that I felt the Department of Health have let the people of Eastbourne - and surrounding areas – down by showing a lack of oversight, as the Trust seem hell-bent on downgrading the DGH.
“I have since written to the Minister to offer her the chance to address my concerns: who, for instance, in the Department of Health is responsible for ensuring NHS Trusts really do properly implement IRP recommendations as there are real concerns locally that ours were not robustly done over the last six years when we won the maternity battle last time; and also to ensure no infrastructure is removed from the DGH to make this ‘temporary’ move irreversible in 18 months time.
“I’ve also submitted over 100 Freedom of Information requests as I am extremely concerned our local Hospital Trust is vastly over-managed, and money that could be spent on providing front line services is being wasted on senior management.”
A spokesperson for the NHS Trust added, “The temporary changes to maternity services are being made purely on the grounds of safety. They have the full support of all the Trust’s Consultant Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and senior midwives. It is a matter of safety.”