Herald Opinion: A sense of anger and betrayal over DGH proposals

IT was a scene none of us expected to witness again - and certainly not so soon.

So amid the horn-tooting motorists and placard-waving protestors, there was a real sense of anger and betrayal outside Eastbourne’s general hospital on Wednesday.

The numbers weren’t as great as they had been at the height of the Save The DGH protests but they will surely swell as this new campaign gathers momentum. Meanwhile the fuse was lit by the 200 or more who gathered.

Until then, the protestors had kept their powder dry. They had purposely resisted taking to the streets any earlier, containing their anger at the suggestion that maternity services could be lost to the Conquest at Hastings.

All this, of course, just three years after the end of a review that covered much of the same ground but reached the conclusion that such a move would leave the mums-to-be of Eastbourne vulnerable and exposed. And the idea was dropped.

Then the shock news that cardiology services could also be at risk - scrapping round-the-clock emergency treatment for the majority of heart attack victims in Eastbourne - was the trigger for action.

It quite properly fuelled fears that this “reconfiguration” of health services in east Sussex is not just about the battle to keep full maternity services at both the DGH and the Conquest. It is a much more fundamental review of all of our key health services - to use the Trust’s phrase, “how models of care can be delivered” into the future.

Health provision is a fast-moving world and not all change will be bad. But there are areas of critical care where no amount of efficiency or expert input can make up for the loss of services on the town’s doorstep.

Maternity and cardiology are two of them. The idea of either the DGH or the Conquest playing second fiddle to the other is simply not acceptable, given the size of the two towns and Eastbourne’s growing population. Hands off.

A MUM’S campaign reached a new milestone this week with the JPK Project finally achieving its long-awaited aim of an independent home for people with severe learning disabilities.

For Jill Parker, it is the realisation of a dream for her and her daughter, Katie. For her legion of supporters, it is a mountain conquered that many thought they would never scale. What a fantastic achievement.