CAMPAIGNERS battling to save services at the Conquest Hospital. in Hastings, from being cut or downgraded have set up an online e-petition in protest against NHS bosses’ latest proposals.
The Hands of the Conquest group wants as many people as possible to sign it and already has more than 60 names.
The move comes amid plans to change general surgery services, musculoskeletal and orthopaedic services, and stroke services at the Conquest and its sister hospital, Eastbourne’s DGH.
Campaigners also say that some data in the consultation document, called Shaping Our Future, is inaccurate and misleading.
Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, said; “We are concerned the public consultation that is taking place is not reaching enough members of the public.
“We are also concerned that there are inaccuracies in the consultation document, Shaping Our Future. With all the data available it should have been simple for the Primary Care Trust (PCT) to produce just one figure of affected patients for the consultation document.
However, when we queried the figures with the PCT it explained that it had endeavoured to make it simple for people to understand. Its efforts have produced a range of conflicting data.
“We have identified figures ranging from 2,992 up to 6,650 of patients who would be affected by the changes.
“It has become extremely difficult to comprehend the thought processes engaged by the PCT to produce such a wide range of conflicting data, and our concern is that if the PCT has applied this thought process to the rest of the document, then the validity of the whole consultation process is in question. The fact is that the data is inaccurate and therefore misleading.
“How can the PCT expect the general public to make informed choices on such important health issues? If the input of information is wrong then the responses received will not be accurate.
“Without accurate data Hands off the Conquest has found it difficult to measure the full impact of social and economic pressure on family, friends, carers and the environment. The consultation document pays scant attention to what, we feel, is an essential and important element of this process.”
Local health bosses have admitted up to 15 patients a day will have to travel either to Eastbourne or Hastings if the proposals come into effect.
General surgery deals with abdominal organs, such as the stomach and intestines, and the higher risk and emergency work will be based at either the Conquest or Eastbourne’s DGH.
Emergency orthopaedics, such as fractured hips, would also be centralised at one or the other hospital, similarly with stroke services.
To fill in the e-petition log onto www.handsofftheconquest.org.
A spokesman for NHS Sussex said: “The key points that the document expresses and the scale of change described are not affected by the data issues we have clarified.
“The proposals discussed in the consultation document will affect less than one per cent of people who use our hospitals each year.
“Were the changes to be implemented, regardless of the configuration chosen, fewer than 15 people per day would need to travel further.”
The public consultation ends on Friday, September 28. More details, including clarification of the figures, can be found by logging onto www.esht.nhs.uk/shapingourfuture.