Campaigners demand hospital board steps down over maternity

ANGRY campaigners are calling on the hospital trust’s chief executive to resign following a controversial decision to centralise consultant-led maternity services at the Conquest and downgrade Eastbourne DGH’s to a unit led by midwives.

Members of Hands off the Conquest and Save the DGH are furious as both groups fought against similar proposals in 2008 when the then Secretary of State overruled NHS managers’ plans.

Campaigners from Save the DGH met at the weekend to discuss a strategy to fight the proposals and as a result are calling on chief executive Darren Grayson, chairman Stuart Welling and the board which runs both hospitals to stand down.

A Facebook group - - has also been set up, with more than 700 people already joining.

Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, said: “We support Save the DGH’s call for the board to step down but I fear if they did, they would only be replaced by others who would do the same. It’s a fait accompli and the board set the precedent by single siting other services, such as stroke.”

Earlier this month the trust said that it had been advised by doctors, midwives and nurses, together with the National Clinical Advisory Team that maternity and paediatric services at both hospitals could not continue in their present format.

Consultant-led obstetric services, neonatal (including the Special Care Baby Unit), in-patient paediatric and emergency gynaecology services will be based at the Conquest within weeks. The trust said it is a temporary measure, expected to last around 18 months.

A spokesman from East Sussex NHS Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We understand the concerns of local people, however the decision to make these temporary changes are purely on the grounds of safety.

“We have listened to the serious concerns raised by all our obstetricians, senior midwives and the majority of our paediatricians and the external expert advice in obstetrics and paediatrics.

“We have a responsibility for ensuring that mothers, babies and children receive the safest possible care.

“We reiterate that any permanent changes to the service will be subject to a full public consultation within the next 18 months.”