The fight is over – two DGH services are lost

12/4/11- Eastbourne District General Hospital
12/4/11- Eastbourne District General Hospital

The fight to stop two DGH emergency services being slashed is over following a campaign group’s decision not to launch a legal challenge against the hugely unpopular plans.

This week the Save the DGH Campaign Group announced it will not mount a costly judicial review to stop the downgrading of emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedic services in Eastbourne. The group has taken the decision reluctantly and said the risk of failure was “too high”.

The town’s residents now face a 17-mile journey to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, where both services will now be based. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, has welcomed the decision and insists centralising services will provide “better results for patients, better access to expert clinicians and better recovery rates”.

The campaign group is adamant the fight continues but this was effectively the group’s last realistic hope of stopping the cuts. MP Stephen Lloyd admitted the battle to save orthopaedics and general surgery was lost, but he said the group would fight on to stop any further cuts and said local GPs must make sure there isn’t a “domino effect”

Mr Lloyd said, “The whole cross-party Save the DGH team are very disappointed we are not proceeding with a judicial review to try to stop the downgrading of the hospital’s core services. It was incredibly courageous of Liz Walke to offer once again to put her house on the line. However, we all recognise the odds of failing were just too high. I and all the team though remain absolutely determined to stop any further reductions to any core services. I appeal to our own new GP consortia who take over the funding this April to join us in protecting our hospital’s future.” From March 31 NHS primary care trusts across the country will hand over the responsibility of commissioning hospital treatment to teams headed by local GPs.

On Wednesday evening (February 20) Eastbourne Borough Council voted in favour of a motion to provide £40,000 to the Save the DGH campaign “should it be needed towards costs involved with current litigation”. In response to the campaign group’s decision to abandon the legal challenge, a spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said, “We have not yet had official confirmation that Ms Walke will not be applying for a Judicial Review. We are continuing to focus on the implementation of our proposals to improve the quality of stroke care, emergency orthopaedic and emergency general surgery by centralising these service. Ourguiding principle has always been, and remains, the safety and future clinical sustainability of our services.

“The campaigners argued for no change but the evidence is that this would have led to poorer outcomes for patients.

“We believe our proposals will deliver better results for patients, better access to expert clinicians and better recovery rates.”