Domino effect of proposals would lead to downgrading of Eastbourne A&E

IN LAST week’s Herald, East Sussex Healthcare Trust and the Clinical Commissioning Groups said the proposals in Shaping our Future will not lead to downgrading of the Eastbourne Accident and Emergency department.

This is quite wrong. The suggestion demonstrates ignorance of emergency medicine and even a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

The plans propose that Eastbourne Accident and Emergency Department will lose its trauma unit status to the Conquest Hospital, Hastings.

This is major blow; just ask any consultant in emergency medicine in the country. Eastbourne A & E will become a local emergency hospital/minor injuries unit.

The Sussex Trauma Managed Clinical Network describes a trauma unit ( TU ) as a hospital in a trauma network that provides care for most injured patients.

This will be the Conquest, Hastings, and means the vast majority of common intermediate trauma requiring medical intervention such as fractured neck of femur.

The very few cases of major trauma, where there is a threat to life or of serious disability, are already taken to the designate major trauma centre (MTC) at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

The Eastbourne local emergency unit/minor injuries unit will be as defined by the Sussex managed trauma network as a ‘local emergency hospital’ - not designated as a trauma unit.

The local emergency hospital (LEH ) is a hospital in a trauma network that does not routinely receive acute trauma patients ( excepting minor injuries that may be seen in a minor injuries unit).

It has processes in place to ensure should this occur patients are appropriately transferred to an MTC or TU.

It may have a role in the rehabilitation of trauma patients and the care of those with minor injuries.’

The Sussex managed trauma network south east coast criteria for a trauma unit demand co-located emergency orthopaedics surgery and co-located emergency general surgery.

Shaping our Future clearly intends to move these emergency services to Hastings.

The ambulances will take cases of abdominal pain and most serious fractures in all ages of patients to Hastings and will commonly by-pass Eastbourne.

It must be crazy to close the Eastbourne emergency orthopaedic services which are excellent and among the best in the country.

Eastbourne A&E will be a shell of its former self.

No self-respecting emergency medicine consultant wants to work solely in a hospital that loses trauma unit status. Trauma is the essence of their professional work.

It is a bit like asking a surgeon to see patients and not do operations or asking a car mechanic to look at a car without trying to fix it. There is a risk of meltdown as senior staff desert the unit.

This has happened in other areas such as Wycombe where the A & E lost its trauma unit status and was downgraded to a LEH/minor injuries unit which failed and is now going to close and just be an urgent care centre.

Eastbourne will be the largest discrete town in the UK without a proper accident and emergency department. This is lunacy.

It would be more honest if the East Sussex Healthcare Trust and the commissioners admitted the inevitable domino effect of their proposals will lead to the serious downgrading of the Eastbourne A & E department.

This would allow the people of the Eastbourne area to see the folly and danger of the proposals.


Consultant in Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine

Jevington Road, Friston