New march planned to save the hospital

Campaigners against the downgrading of services at the DGH are asking people to join them in a march, nearly a year on after thousands of people took part in a protest on the seafront.

Liz Walke, chairman of the Save the DGH group, is urging people to show their support and join forces on September 7 following changes to the Eastbourne hospital which saw it become a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit in May and children no longer staying overnight at the Friston Ward.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said the decision was made on the grounds of safey and any decision over the future of these services after the 18 month temporary period would be made by the Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Mrs Walke said, “We really need to go bigger than big on this march.

“We will lose all essential hospital services if we don’t get back maternity and paediatrics and stop the removal of trauma and any orthopaedic or general surgery services which are planned any time from September.”

On September 15 last year supporters joined forces to fight plans to concentrate stroke care, general surgery and orthopaedics at either the DGH or the Conquest in Hastings. However, in November the board of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust voted in favour of plans to centralise emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics at the Conquest in Hastings, with specialist stroke care remaining at the DGH. This was later backed by NHS Sussex.

Last week the trust confirmed the introduction of the first phase of a new stroke service. It has yet to confirm dates of changes to emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics.

Mrs Walke wants core services at both hospitals and fears that otherwise there could be a fatality.

She added, “We realise we are in the 21st century and medicine has made great advances but core services are those services needed in an emergency and a patient needs to be treated at hospital quickly ie, within 30 minutes.

“We fear a tragedy waiting to happen and although there have been near misses and serious incidents, we fear there will be a fatality. We cannot let that happen. Core services need to be kept at both the Conquest and the DGH and we need people ready to march to show their support on September 7. Please join us.”