Eastbourne councillors have expressed their disappointment and frustration that local health service executives declined two invitations to attend and speak at the council’s influential all-party scrutiny committee.
Committee chair Penny di Cara issued two separate invitations to East Sussex Healthcare Trust and Clinical Commissioning Groups to discuss the findings of a major independent survey of the experiences of all mothers across East Sussex who gave birth during the year 2016.
The survey was conducted under the governance of the Office for National Statistics, and the detailed final report was published in October last year.
At this point copies of the report were sent to health service providers, together with an invitation to attend the scrutiny committee in December.
A further invitation was extended to the same groups to attend the scrutiny committee meeting on February 5, 2018 together with an offer to arrange an alternative date if preferred. Again, there was no take-up.
At this week’s meeting of the committee, members expressed their concern at the non-attendance of any service deliverers to discuss this important matter.
Cllr di Cara said, “We are very disappointed not a single healthcare representative chose to engage with us on the findings of this very important and thorough piece of research. I believe it reflects badly and sends a message that matters of concern regarding current service levels, particularly in respect of Eastbourne area mothers, are not being taken seriously.”
“We are aware this matter is due to be discussed at the County Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee later this month and I sincerely hope the issues identified in the survey are addressed with due care and attention.”
A spokesperson said in a joint statement from NHS Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG, NHS Hastings and Rother CCG, and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust that they would discuss issues with the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The spokesperson said, “The NHS locally is committed to ensuring that everyone in the communities we serve across East Sussex has access to safe and high quality healthcare services.
“The original decision to make changes to maternity services was based firmly on improving safety and quality, and the evidence is clear that these changes have indeed improved quality and safety for local people.
“Nevertheless, we appreciate the on-going desire of local people to have services closer to where they live and, as ever, we keep all the evidence under review.
“We will be pleased to contribute to further discussions on these issues at the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.”