In reply to the letter from Miss L West (Herald,April 12) ‘What is so special about the Conquest?’. I offer this truncated partial explanation.
Regional development agencies funded by the Labour government were set up in 1999. Their role was to fund regeneration of deprived areas.
SEEDA ( South East England Development Agency) found that electoral wards within Hastingsand Bexhill conformed to that criteria.
In 2002/2003 38 million pounds was allocated to regenerate those areas, and amongst other things, Hastings benefited from a new railway station, new shopping centre, new educational buildings with links to Brighton University and a media centre in which the BBC have an office to broadcast news items from, usually with the reporter on the roof.
In 2001 Paul Corrigan (now Professor) took up a position as advisor to the then Labour Health minister Alan Milburn and he later carried out the same role for John Reid.
At a meeting on February 4 2004, in public, HOSC was given an apology by the Chief Executives of the NHS Trust and PCT responsible for the DGH for not complying with their statuory duty and consulting them about their intention to close All Saints Hospital. After further consultation it was decided that the running down of the hospital had reached the point of no return and All Saints was duly closed.
A short period of time after the closure of All Saints an attempt was made to close the maternity wing at the DGH and move it to The Conquest, but this was rejected by the then Health Minister Alan Johnson after a robust campaign against closure by Ms Walke and her colleagues.
His decision in favour of the campaign group and the citizens of Eastbourne came with a list of recommendations from the IRP (Independent Reconfiguration Panel) who had been charged by Mr Johnson with carrying out an investigation into the disputed attempt of closure by the Health Trust.
During the review the IRP considered the local geography and transport infrastructure, deciding that the journey from Eastbourne to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings posed a risk of incidents for women, especially during unexpected transfers.
The IRP also recognised the potential time-consuming and costly journeys to Hastings for both staff and women’s families.’’ (ref. IRP report 2008).
Mr Johnson went against the then ( and present) government policy of larger units.
Add to that the £38 million recently spent in the Hastings area and there was, and is, no doubt where any axe would be intended to fall.
It has been alleged that the Trust(s) ‘sat on their hands’ and made no attempt to implement the IRP recommendations which were designed to remove the ‘unsafe’ and other reasons for closure made in statements by the Trust. In a bizarre move, the Trust have now used the ‘unsafe’ card to move services to Hastings, a card that would not be available had they implemented the IRP recommendations back in 2008, and by calling the move ‘temporary’ have circumvented the requirement for‘consultation’.