Herald Opinion: All is not well within the health trust

Hospital chief Darren Grayson tried to get on the front foot this week with his attempt to extinguish claims of a conspiracy at work within the DGH.

He rejected as rubbish the fears of MP Stephen Lloyd that senior staff within the ranks of his own managers and doctors were plotting to bring down one of the two maternity units at either the DGH or the Conquest in Hastings.

He dismissed those claims as nonsense and disruptive and again gave an assurance that neither of the units was at risk.

But all is not well within the trust and if - as we also fear - there are forces favouring a single site, they have found a formidable ally in the Care Quality Commission.

The trust only added to the cloak and dagger atmosphere when it refused to say what it was doing to improve patient safety and staffing in its maternity and A&E departments - both of which were criticised by the CQC.

So if there is nothing to hide, why the secrecy? If there are no plans to close either unit, then the emphasis switches to making sure that mums and babies get the very best care available.

That means admitting what’s wrong and revealing how the trust plans to put it right. It means finding a way to recruit the middle-grade doctors it needs and ending the nonsense of paying £18k per month to each temporary doctor on the books.

And it means assuring both towns that their maternity facilities mean just that - and not some watered down future for one of them without the special care units that remain essential to both sites.

By today, the care commission will have been back on site to monitor the improvements that should have been made. And worryingly, their visit comes at the end of a week when the trust admitted it may end the financial year £6m in the red - a scenario that one board member described as “doomsday”.

If we believe Mr Grayson, an all-clear from the inspectors will lift any threat. If we believe Stephen Lloyd, there are those inside the corridors of the DGH hoping for a thumbs down.

Our feet are in the latter camp but for the sake for the families of Eastbourne, we pray we are proven wrong.