LETTER: The DGH has not been downgraded

As requested by Paul Bundy (Eastbourne Herald letters, November 28) I am happy to provide details to demonstrate what I mean when I say hospital services at Eastbourne and Hastings have not been ‘downgraded’.

Our CCG is led by local GPs, who day in day out see local patients and with their wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise in treating local people, they unequivocally characterise services by two key indicators – are they of a high quality and crucially are they safe?

Between June 2012 and May 2013 and when consultant led maternity services were available at both the EDGH and Conquest Hospital there were 17 serious incidents (those cases where mums and babies were at risk of serious harm or death).

Between June 2013 and May 2014 – after these services had been single sited in the Conquest Hospital – there were six.

In relation to stroke services, those provided at the Eastbourne DGH are performing above the national average against a number of nationally mandated standards.

For example, the Trust has significantly exceeded the national average for quality indicators including ensuring patients are admitted to a stroke ward within four hours, and for patients to spend at least 90 per cent of their time on a dedicated stroke ward with the necessary experts on hand to treat them.

Detailed quality reports are available to view on our websites for anyone interested in finding out more.

Of course, despite significant improvements in the safety of stroke care and maternity services since these recent reconfigurations, there are always areas for on-going improvement and lessons for us to learn about how care, treatment and patient experience can continue to be improved.

I sincerely appreciate that it can be difficult for many people to believe that services can be safer or even of a higher quality if patients have to travel further to access them, but our decisions are not by any stretch driven by ‘arrogance’: they are careful conclusions reached by our local doctors and nurses who consider at length detailed evidence about the services we commission on a regular basis.

That aside, and as Mr Bundy highlights in his letter, access to services is clearly a key factor which we have heard from local people.

That is why through the East Sussex Better Together programme, the county’s four health and social care commissioning organisations (the three CCGs and the East Sussex County Council) are working together with local people and the local voluntary sector to plan how we can invest much more in high quality primary and community services to bring care much closer to people’s homes.

We are actively listening and learning from local people and there are many ways for anyone interested to get involved and have their say.

Please visit the CCG website atwww.eastbournehailshamandseafordccg.nhs.uk to find out more.

Amanda Philpott

Chief Officer,Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG