Plans to downgrade maternity services at the DGH have been labelled a ‘disgrace’ by furious residents and mums.
Since the Herald broke the news online this week people have been in touch to share their views, with concerns that lives will be put at risk.
And yesterday (Thursday) the Herald was able to confirm that if the changes went ahead then NO epidurals would be available at Eastbourne.
On Monday East Sussex NHS Trust issued a statement to say a board meeting would take place today (Friday) to discuss the future of obstetric and neonatal services across the DGH and the Conquest in Hastings. However, the preferred option is to maintain a consultant-led obstetric service, neonatal service (including the Special Care Baby Unit), have in-patient paediatric service and emergency gynaecology service at the Conquest Hospital only and establish a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit alongside enhanced ambulatory paediatric care at the DGH.
The changes could come about within six weeks’ time and if they go ahead while the painkiller pethadine and entenox (more commonly known as gas and air) would be available at a midwifery-led maternity unit, an epidural would not be.
Mum Sarah Cain has slammed the planned changes, saying they are ‘horrendous’ and ‘life-threatening’ to both mother and baby.
The 32-year-old, who is pregnant with her fourth child, bled heavily after giving birth to her first-born Megan, who is now nine.
She said the plans were a disgrace, adding, “It was all going fine and it wasn’t high risk. It was a normal delivery but afterwards my placenta got stuck and I was haemorrhaging.
“If they had put me in an ambulance to Hastings, well in that case my body was already shutting down, and the anaesthetist was struggling to get a line. If it was a midwife-led unit they would not have had the back up to do that.
“By the time I had got to Hastings I would be lucky to be alive.
“It was petrifying, I thought I was going to die and that was with all that back up.”
This time around Sarah, of Medina Drive, Stone Cross, has a condition called polyhydramnios which means she has too much amniotic fluid in the womb and this could lead to the cord coming out first.
She said, “That’s bad enough knowing we’re 10 minutes away from the hospital but to go to Hastings you’re talking at least 45 minutes, it’s life-threatening for both of you.
“I think it’s much more relaxing to have the services you need on your doorstep. It’s scary for anybody to think you would have to have that journey to Hastings if anything was to go wrong.
“Megan was deemed as low risk and that’s what I think people don’t understand – just because you’re deemed low risk it doesn’t mean to say complications won’t arise.
“I just think these plans are horrendous.”
Laura King, who is pictured on the front page and who had an emergency caesarean in November last year, said the proposals were ludicrous. The 31-year-old, of Beechfield Close, Stone Cross, said, “I just can’t believe they are considering that.
“There’s no way I would want to go in an ambulance to Hastings.
“It’s stressful enough with everything going on, especially when you’re a first time mum. A caesarean wasn’t the outcome I wanted, I didn’t want to have a caesarean but I obviously had to.
“That in itself is stressful enough but to have an emergency caesarean and be told you’re going in an ambulance to drive for 40 minutes to go and have it carried out there I think is ludicrous. It’s the last thing I would want to do.”
“I was born at the DGH and so was my husband Martin, so it was quite nice to be able to have Isabelle there too for that reason and in terms of it being down the road from us and not having to go all the way to Hastings.
“I was in hospital for a little while because I had the caesarean and if I was at Hastings then that means further for my family to travel. There were excellent at the DGH and that’s where I wanted to go.”
Meanwhile outraged readers took to Facebook to air their views. One reader Rosemary Battles Hughes, said, “Disgraceful, lives will be put at risk crossing the A259. How can they do this?”
Jacquie Whitmore added, “The DGH is going to end up a cottage hospital with a brand new, never used helipad. Eastbourne is growing by the month with lots of new young families and no health facilities for them. Makes me fume!”
Chris Hankey said, “My wife is 28 weeks and the thought of going to Hastings is making her panic as she suffers from anxiety and will not be able to stay there on her own after the baby is born as we have other young children to look after. This is stupid, we pay high rent and high council tax for living in Eastbourne but the fact is it’s going downhill fast.”
Jennah Perry added, “There isn’t the money to pay for adequate staffing levels, so it is unsafe for pregnant women, its not the nurses fault.
“The nurses are tremendous, my sons were born there, my dad’s received cardiac and cancer care and quite frankly, having seen what they do and what they deal with, nurses do not earn enough.”