On Monday, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told the BBC Today programme that it looked as though no new hospitals would be fully built by the next election and in the list of 48 some are entirely new facilities but the majority ‘are upgrades’.
The Herald was contacted by a source with knowledge of the situation who said that while they hoped for some improvements to the DGH, the suggestion Eastbourne was getting a new hospital was a ‘fairy tale’.
Approached for comment, a spokesperson for the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings, said: “We are working with the Department of Health & Social Care and NHS England New Hospital Programme on our Outline Business Case with the scheme due to be delivered in the latter half of this decade.
"At this stage a range of options are under consideration which include new buildings and refurbishment at Eastbourne District General Hospital.”
Meanwhile Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said: “When it was announced by the government, I welcomed the news and I have liaised with our hospital trust over the plans since then.
“My understanding is the hospital trust has submitted several options for this major development of our health services in Eastbourne - as they are required to do. A new hospital is one of those options. The trust is working with the New Hospital Programme (NHP) at the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). This will be quite rightly decided by health leaders.
“When the government made the announcement, it was after consideration of our hospital trust’s own submission to DHSC. The hospital trust put forward the proposal for a new hospital as part of several options.
“What is happening here is that several hundred million pounds will be invested in health care in Eastbourne - a huge sum that will make a huge difference to patients.
“Our hospital leaders will drive how this is best spent to achieve the very best outcomes for patients.
“It is unfortunate that some want to play politics with this incredibly good news.
“For the avoidance of any doubt here are the DHSC definitions of a new hospital.
• A whole new hospital site on a new site or current NHS land, either a single service of consolidation of services on a new site.
• A major new clinical building on an existing site or a new wing of an existing hospital, provided it contains a whole clinical service, such as maternity or children’s services; or
• A major refurbishment and alteration of all but building frame or main structure, delivering a significant extension to useful life which includes major or visible changes to the external structure.”
Last month, Lib Dem borough councillors called on the government to honour its pledge of a new hospital and requested the NHS trust share the plans that have been drawn up so far.