‘They saved my life’: Praise for Eastbourne health centre facing closure

Debbi Matthews says staff at the Eastbourne station health centre saved her life
Debbi Matthews says staff at the Eastbourne station health centre saved her life

A woman says she wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for the walk-in medical centre in Eastbourne station.

Debbi Matthews is one of the many people who have come forward with their stories praising the service after it was announced earlier this week the NHS is considering closing it for good.

Eastbourne Railway Station Health Centre (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Eastbourne Railway Station Health Centre (Photo by Jon Rigby)

The mum, from Eastbourne, said, “They were absolutely fantastic, the best doctors I have been to. I couldn’t fault them. If it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t be here.”

Eastbourne station health centre could close

Though the local CCG says it is considering closing the service as other services are and will become available, Debbi said she would not have travelled to the DGH for care when she experienced symptoms of indigestion one Friday night.

The following day, her husband left for work, and when he came back it seemed to her as if no time had passed.

“He said ‘you are probably having a heart attack’,” said Debbi, “I said, no not at my age. He told me he’d phone an ambulance or I should go to the walk-in centre.”

It was the first time she had been to the centre in Eastbourne station. She sat down – “the place was packed” – but soon realised she couldn’t physically get up to go to the receptionist.

Quickly, staff realised something was wrong and a doctor was called. “They set me up on a heart machine and said ‘we think you’re suffering a heart attack’. In minutes they got me in an ambulance and I was straight in coronary care.”

Debbi said, “If they hadn’t have been open, I know I wouldn’t have gone to A&E, I would have thought I would just get over it.

“I didn’t think I needed to be at a hospital. I didn’t want to be there when there were other people in more serious conditions.”

But Debbi is not the only person who has had a lifechanging experience at the service. Hundreds took to the Eastbourne Herald Facebook page to share their stories.

Jenny Ren wrote, “They saved my life and called 999 as I think I [had a] chest infection, no got heart problem and was rushed to A&E.”

And Claire Whitehead said, “This health centre has been an absolute Godsend! Yes, you have to wait to be seen as registered patients have pre-booked appointments, but it would be a real shame to lose such a useful and valuable service.”

Tara Highway said, “We’ve used it SO many times, it’s been a real life saver, it MUST stay open!”

Others criticised the decision process behind plans to shut the service. Charlotte Dee said, “How in the name of all that is holy can a major decision about health services be made by looking at four days?

“As a walk-in centre there will be peaks and troughs. They should be looking at the demographics of the people using the service over a year.

“The homeless and those living in temporary accommodation have no choice nor will they have the means to get to the DGH. There are huge house building schemes in the pipeline with no expansion of the infrastructure.

“Waiting two to three weeks is the norm for a GP appointment. Surely that tells its own story.”

And James Huggins, who said he works for the NHS said, “I think it’s a stupid idea to close it. Would put a huge, huge strain on the hospital as an NHS worker myself yes I can see they are trying to save money but honestly it would stretch the resources we already are trying to cope with.”

Read more about this subject here: Eastbourne station health centre could close