Campaigners of the Save the DGH group marched on Whitehall on Tuesday and handed over a 24,000-strong petition to review changes at Eastbourne’s hospital.
The campaigners want the Secretary of State for Health to review a decision by the local Clinical Commissioning Groups to move consultant-led maternity services to Hastings.
Retired obstetrician Dr Brian Valentine said, “From a clinical perspective I do not believe we can assure the safety of mothers, babies and children from the west of the county with a single-sited unit at the far end of the eastern side, especially with the roads and public transport as bad as they are.”
Vicki Burcham, who gave birth in an ambulance on the way from Eastbourne to the Conquest, added, “As a high-risk case I needed a consultant on hand and I didn’t have one. Giving birth en route could easily have led to a tragic outcome.”
Kirsty Peyton-Lander, said she doesn’t want anyone to go through what she experienced giving birth at the side of the road. She said, “We have got to get back consultant-led maternity to the DGH.”
Liz Walke, chairman of the Save the DGH campaign, said, “Despite what the local NHS say, there has not been an independent enquiry into maternity services since 2008 when the then Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson ordered that consultant-led maternity must not be downgraded irrespective of the reports and statistics the local NHS produced at the time saying it was safer, more sustainable and offered more choice. We’re just asking for the decision in 2008 to be upheld or have another independent enquiry. And over 24,000 people have put their names to our petition saying just that.”
MP Stephen Lloyd said, “We are never going to give up our fight in Eastbourne to retain core services at the DGH. Today(Tuesday, December 16), all the local parliamentary candidates for the forthcoming General Election joined me in supporting our petition asking Jeremy Hunt to appoint an independent clinical body to properly review the HOSC decision.”
Labour and Conservative candidates for Eastbourne, Jake Lambert and Caroline Ansell also signed the petition.
Mrs Ansell, said, “I am a DGH mum and twice needed consultant intervention. I want that same provision for every local mum – a consultant at the end of the hall, not the end of a phone or at the end of a torturous journey to Hastings. The road and the journey times have not changed since the original IRP ruled that both hospitals should have consultant care. We’re told the evidence says it’s safer to run only consultant led units, but when a high risk mother has her baby on the roadside and it doesn’t count as a serious incident, how can we have any confidence in the evidence base? In light of the previous ruling and strength of feeling locally, a new independent review is in the public interest and important for public confidence.”