Consultant-led maternity to remain at Conquest Hospital following review

MOTHERS who suffer complications in their pregnancy and need emergency treatment will have to give birth at the Conquest Hospital.

Bosses at the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which hold the purse strings for health services, decided on Wednesday (June 25) to keep the centralisation of consultant-led maternity at the hospital on The Ridge.

Eastbourne DGH’s unit will remain one led by midwives.

For patients from Eastbourne, it means premature babies needing intensive care and expectant mothers who undergo emergency Caesareans will have to travel almost 20 miles for treatment.

Consultant-led maternity was centralised at the Conquest in May 2013, much to the anger of campaigners from Hands off the Conquest and Save the DGH.

The CCGs said birthing services will be retained at both Eastbourne and Hastings, as well as short-stay paediatric assessment units. In-patient (overnight) paediatrics, the special care baby unit and emergency gynaecology will be based at the Conquest.

Dr Andy Slater, medical director (strategy) for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Our primary concern has always been, and will continue to be, the safety of babies, mothers and young children. This decision puts an end to the long-running issue of the provision of maternity services in East Sussex with the recognition that it is far safer and clinically sustainable to provide services from one consultant-led obstetric unit.”

Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “This will be very welcome news to people in Hastings and the hundreds who got involved in my campaign to save the consultant-led maternity services at the Conquest.

“I am pleased the fight to get their voices heard has been won, but it is a sorry situation which sees parts of the NHS in Hastings and Eastbourne continuously competing against each other to save services.”

Nick Perry, a member of the Hands Off the Conquest committee, said: “It is imperative that we have excellent core emergency services right across East Sussex but I am disappointed that the CCGs have not done more to reassure the public over journey times.

“However, this was the least worst option.”