An NHS trust refuted an MP’s claims it is creating a two-tier health service in East Sussex.
Norman Baker, MP for the Newhaven area, said East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was considering downgrading maternity services at Eastbourne District General Hospital just days after its board approved proposals to strip the hospital of its high risk and emergency general surgery and orthopaedics departments.
“Expectant mothers having to give birth on the side of the road because there is no local maternity service available is simply unacceptable,” he said.
He was also concerned about residents having to travel further for emergency surgery.
But a trust spokesman said: “Maternity services are not part of the recent consultation and the future of these services is not pre-determined by the recent decision.
“This decision is all about stroke, emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedic services and how we can improve these services for the people of East Sussex.”
The trust was not creating a two-tier service. “Our overriding priority is to ensure we provide safe, high quality health services that are clinically and financially sustainable.
“Our recommendation to NHS Sussex strengthens local health services and improves the quality of care provided, with improved outcomes for patients.”
These were ‘extremely difficult and challenging times’.
“No change is not an option. We can’t just carry on with no action being taken,” he said.
“We want Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital to remain thriving hospitals.
“Our recommendation is not a threat to that ambition but a means of achieving it. We will be able to raise the standard of care in three specialist areas.
“On occasions some patients will need to travel further for some specialist services but these changes will guarantee the right specialist teams are in place all year round, with dedicated facilities for recovery before going home.
“Our recommendation will affect less than one per cent of people who use our hospitals each year.”