DGH: Maternity services hope lost

DGH ENGSUS00120131223110204
DGH ENGSUS00120131223110204

Any lasting hopes of consultant-led maternity care and inpatient paediatrics returning to the Eastbourne DGH were dashed on Monday as health watchdogs made a final decision to permanently single-site the services in Hastings.

At a meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) on July 28, councillors considered the decision made by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to move obstetrics, emergency gynaecology, inpatient paediatrics and the special care baby unit to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, leaving just a midwife-led unit and short stay paediatric assessment unit at the DGH.

Just as he did at the previous HOSC meeting, Cllr Alan Shuttleworth again put forward a motion that the issue be referred to the Secretary of State to be considered by an independent party amid fears the consultation process was flawed by the omission of Option 7 - consultant-led services at both sites. The motion failed by eight votes to four.

However, vice chair of HOSC, Cllr Ruth O’Keefe, agreed that information given during the consultation process was incomplete with many questions were still left unanswered and so put forward a second motion for the referral of the decision to the Secretary of State with more conclusive evidence to be collected prior to the HOSC meeting in September. The motion tied at six votes in favour and six against, leading chair of HOSC, Cllr Michael Ensor, to cast a deciding vote. Despite half of the councillors still expressing concern about the decision, Cllr Ensor voted against the motion.

A third motion put forward by Cllr Bob Standley stated that HOSC had considered the decision made by the CCGs and agreed it was in the best interests of the population of East Sussex. This motion passed with seven votes in favour and five against.

HOSC’s decision means work will now begin implementing the temporary changes made in May 2013 on a permanent basis. The outcome will be a huge blow to members of the Save the DGH team, who have worked tirelessly to try and stop Eastbourne losing its valuable hospital services.