Plans will ‘safeguard hospital’s future’

Dr Andy Slater
Dr Andy Slater

One of the key men behind controversial plans to centralise services away from the DGH has warned the alternative to the mooted changes would be far more “uncomfortable”.

Dr Andy Slater is chief medical director at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and was among the senior management who worked on proposals to shift emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics to the Conquest in Hastings, while specialist stroke care would remain in Eastbourne at the DGH.

The plans, which the Trust says would affect just one per cent of patients, are due to be discussed by NHS Sussex today (Friday) and if approved the Trust would face just one final hurdle before setting the wheels in motion.

Health campaigners Save the DGH have been very vocal in expressing their fears such a move would create a domino effect and see the DGH gradually stripped of its most vital services.

However, Dr Slater says the opposite is true and that by not adapting the Trust would be signing its own death warrant. Speaking ahead of today’s meeting, he said the Trust believes that if it does not provide top level, specialist departments on one site, both hospitals will suffer as a result.

It would, he argues, make it increasingly harder to recruit and retain the best staff, which in turn would see a gradual decline in the standard of care. According to Dr Slater, it is a case of adapt or face up to not being able to provide the standard of care the Trust believes all residents deserve.

He said, “We already provide good care but there are significant challenges to sustaining this. We want the DGH and Conquest Hospital to remain thriving hospitals. Our recommendation is not a threat to that ambition but a means of achieving it.

“Some patients will need to travel further for some specialist services but these changes will guarantee the right teams are in place 24/7.”