Eastbourne DGH campaigners meet top UK midwife

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One of the UK’s leading midwives this week shared her experiences of maternity best practice with Eastbourne’s Save The DGH campaign group.

The meeting – conducted on Zoom because of Covid-19 precautions – took place after last week’s government announcement that Eastbourne will be one of 40 towns and cities to receive huge investment in its health infrastructure.

The proposal of a “new hospital” has been welcomed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity by the campaign group, which wants to see full maternity services returned to the Kings Drive hospital.

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Sascha Wells met online on Tuesday with campaign group members eager to learn how she led the project to open the state-of-the-art South Lakes Birth Centre at Barrow in Cumbria. This had followed an inquiry into the area’s poor record of maternity death and birth outcomes.

Sascha SUS-201021-113726001Sascha SUS-201021-113726001
Sascha SUS-201021-113726001

The £12 million facility took less than 18 months to build and now offers obstetric consultant and midwifery-led support for around 1,300 women – high and low risk - giving birth each year.

Campaign group members fighting for the return of full maternity services taken away from Eastbourne in 2013 said they were encouraged to draw comparisons with the Lake District project that earned Sascha Wells an OBE and led to her appointment to her current national role of deputy chief midwife for England.

The session was organised by group adviser Robert Smart and followed last September’s meeting with expert, Dr Bill Kirkup, chair of the inquiry into the deaths at the Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust.

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Dr Kirkup had confirmed his view that smaller consultant-led maternity units are viable and safe.

Campaign chair Liz Walke, who chaired Tuesday’s online meeting with Sascha Wells, said she was looking forward to meeting with new hospital trust chief executive Joe Chadwick-Bell to develop the new hospital plans

Mrs Walke said, “This is far and beyond what we could have expected in our wildest dreams and we thank all the local people of Eastbourne and surrounding towns and villages who have supported us over many years.

“To have a new hospital with all the core services and more far exceeds what we dared hope but now we know it can happen.”

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