RESIDENTS in the Battle area may be denied the change to make their feelings known over proposed changes to services at the Conquest Hospital as health bosses admit there are ‘no plans’ to hold a public consultation in the town.
The local NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and the Eastbourne DGH, want to single site three specialities - Stroke, Emergency Orthopaedic Surgery and Emergency General Surgery.
If the decision is made to centralise the services at Eastbourne this means patients in rural Rother will have to travel further.
This could cause problems for residents in rural villages with limited transport links.
Public consultations have already been held in Hastings and Rye, with others planned for Eastbourne, Uckfield and Seaford.
But there are no plans for a public consultation in Battle.
A spokesperson for the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust told the Observer that anyone from the town who wanted to attend a consultation could travel to Hastings where a second public consultation meeting is planned for a later date.
The Hands Off The Conquest protest group say the proposed changes will mean that at least 15 patients a day will have to travel further.
Chairman Margaret Williams said: “That’s 5,460 patients per year travelling along the ninth most dangerous road in the country.
“We do not know whether these specialities will be sited at Hastings or Eastbourne.
“Please be clear that if too many emergency services are removed from a hospital then further down the line Accident and Emergency will follow as it becomes unsustainable.
“This is only the first of the proposed reconfigurations as Maternity and Paediatrics will follow later in the year, even though we won the battle to single site back in 2008.”
The 14 week public consultation, called Shaping Our Future, ends on September 28.
The NHS in East Sussex claims local patients will have a better standard of care which meets national best practice and enables them to recover faster and more fully.
Dr Andy Slater, Medical Director, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We want every operation to go ahead on time as planned.
“We want every patient needing unplanned diagnosis and treatment to be seen and treated swiftly by skilled and expert doctors.
“We want everybody who has had treatment to get the right support afterwards to enable a strong recovery in good time. These goals are not currently achievable and we want to change that.”
He added “Staff at both Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital work incredibly hard to provide excellent care. This is about improving our services so we can do even better.”
Dr Roger Elias, Bexhill GP and chair of the Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Local doctors have been involved in shaping these plans for change in East Sussex.
“We have worked with our hospital colleagues, other GPs and patient representatives as well as looking at best practice elsewhere and the recommendations of national experts.
“As doctors we are supporting these proposals because we want people in East Sussex to have excellent, safe and sustainable services for years to come.
“These plans, we believe, will deliver better results for patients, better access to expert clinicians and better recovery rates.”
Electronic copies of the full consultation document are available to download via the internet at www.esht.nhs.uk/shapingourfuture.
Paper copies of the full document are available on request from the Shaping Our Future Consultation Team on 01273 485300.
You can also contact Hands Off The Conquest at www.handsofftheconquest.org and follow the links to the e-petition, which can also be downloaded in hard copy.