Herald comment: Why Eastbourne needs a fully-functioning local hospital

AS a local newspaper the Herald prides itself on being neutral. It is our job to report the facts, not cloud them with opinion. Herald readers are more than clever enough to make up their own minds over what is a waste of public money, or who deserves criticism.

But today we ARE taking a stance on one of our stories. Not because we have an axe to grind, or because we are in anyone’s pocket, but because we are part of this town, part of this community.

Like every single one of you, the Herald cares about what happens to this town. We want to see a prosperous and safe town for people to live in.

And, we believe, a town like Eastbourne needs a fully-functioning local hospital.

More than 100,000 live in Eastbourne. A town of this size deserves to have the best medical care on its doorstep, not a train, car or bus ride away in Hastings.

We have spoken at length with the management at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust over the plans to centralise key services either here in Eastbourne or in Hastings.

We have listened to the management tell us it will actually improve the quality of care – that as things are the Trust cannot recruit top quality consultants.

But we, like many of you, do not accept that argument.

The people of this town should be able to expect the very best in health care without having to travel for it. The Trust says the number of people it will affect is minimal. We did the maths ourselves and it amounts to hundreds of people every year. It could be one person, it could be 10,000. Either way it would not be acceptable. If just one person suffers as a result of the planned changes then all the financial savings in the world will not be enough to balance out the cost of life.

The Trust needs to save money. We all realise that. But that should not come before saving lives.

For that reason we are urging every Herald reader who is able to head down to the Redoubt tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 10am and join the Save the DGH march.

We will be there. And if we know our readers half as well as we think we do, we won’t be alone.