DGH battle is lost - Trust votes through controversial changes despite public opposition

CAMPAIGNERS hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve over the future of the DGH were left disappointed today when the NHS Sussex agreed to controversial plans to centralise core hospital services.

Last week the board of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust voted in favour of plans to centralise emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics at the Conquest in Hastings, with specialist stroke care remaining at the DGH.

At this morning’s meeting of NHS Sussex, these were rubber stamped, despite thousands of protestors taking to Eastbourne seafront in September to express their objection to the plans.

This morning Councillor Sandie Howlett tweeted, “You can’t put a price on a life - lives could be lost as a result of these changes.”

NHS Sussex were putting a positive spin on the proposals. Within minutes of the decision being made at the Kings Centre in Eastbourne, the trust had put out a press release headed: “Significant improvements to healthcare in East Sussex agreed”.

The move means the creation of a specialist centre for stroke services on the Eastbourne DGH site, and a specialist centre for emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics on the Conquest Hospital site in Hastings.

Dr Andrew Foulkes, Medical Director, NHS Sussex, said: “We want people in East Sussex to have excellent, safe and sustainable services for years to come. Today’s decision will deliver better results for patients, better access to expert clinicians and better recovery rates.”

In making its decision, NHS Sussex said that it was giving its support to maintaining two thriving major hospital sites in Eastbourne and Hastings.

“The changes agreed today affect around one per cent of the total activity of the two hospitals,” the trust said in a stetement.

Amanda Fadero, Chief Executive of NHS Sussex added: “Our overwhelming priority is to improve health services for local people. We believe all people in East Sussex should have access to the same high quality of healthcare, whenever they need it. That’s what these proposals will deliver.

“I firmly believe that this decision will lead to improvements in care and is the right foundation for ensuring safe and sustainable services for the future while maintaining two thriving major hospital sites.”

At the meeting, chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust Darren Grayson promised that the DGH would remain a strong hospital and he spoke of the large investments being made to secuire its future.

Dr Andy Slater, joint medical director at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust which runs both hospitals, told the packed gathering that 99 per cent of patients would not be affected by the changes, and talked about the need for 24/7 care in East Sussex.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd addressed the meeting when he called plans to move services to Hastings as “outrageous”. And Liz Walke from the “Save The DGH” campaign urged members to defer any decision until April next year. She said that local people did not support the plans, describing the whole process as “rushed and flawed”.