‘People could die’ because of hospital merger

A STAPLECROSS woman says she fears people could die as a result of merged hospital services after her seriously ill husband was forced to travel 25 miles for treatment.

Brenda Dale’s husband Roger suffered a couple of mini strokes on August 1 and an ambulance was called to the couple’s home in Cricketers Field.

But the couple’s nearest hospital, the Conquest in Hastings, no longer has a stroke unit, following East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s decision to centralise some key services.

Instead 69-year-old Roger was taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital - 25 miles away from Staplecross.

Brenda said: “Bearing in mind that we live in the country about eight miles from the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, I think it is ludicrous to expect a seriously ill patient to travel about 25 miles to Eastbourne.

“By the time we arrived he was feeling even worse and very sick.

“I could not fault the ambulance crew, they were brilliant, but this situation is not acceptable.

“We actually went past the road leading to the Conquest Hospital.”

Brenda praised the stroke team as ‘brilliant’ and ‘efficient’, but criticised the Trust’s management.

She said: “I do not know whose decision it was to amalgamate departments in the two hospitals. Perhaps they should try being a sick patient and going through what they go through.

“Then there is the visiting! It costs a small fortune for fuel to visit the sick patient, not the mention the extortionate parking fees (at least £5.60 a time) that the hospital charge and there is also the time it takes to go to and fro.

“How on earth are we expected to pay these costs out of our pension and how are we supposed to get to the hospital if we cannot drive or do not feel up to driving because our loved one is ill?”

Brenda added: “I think this situation should be looked at again, otherwise people are going to die before they reach hospital.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “It is most important that local patients with a suspected stroke get the best care possible. Mrs Dale’s husband was treated appropriately and effectively in the specialist stroke unit at Eastbourne DGH and has since returned home. Indeed, Mrs Dale refers to the care her husband received from the stroke team as being ‘brilliant’.

“All patients with a suspected stroke are taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital where they receive a specialist service providing initial diagnosis and treatment in the days immediately following their stroke. The decision to consolidate acute stroke services on a single hospital site in East Sussex was made in November 2012 and subject to scrutiny by the East Sussex County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee who agreed in December 2012 that this decision was in the best interests of local people.

“We accept there will be some inconvenience for some visitors as a result of travelling further but this is far out weighed by the better recovery outcomes and shorter lengths of stay in hospital which can be achieved when patients who have had a stroke are treated by specialist staff within a specialist unit.

“We are committed to improving the healthcare available for our communities and we firmly believe our new stroke service improves the quality of the stroke care patients receive in East Sussex.

“We would like to remind the public that if they suspect someone is having a stroke they should continue to act FAST and call 999 for an ambulance. The ambulance will ensure the patient is taken to the correct hospital so that they can get specialist treatment as soon as possible.”