Lewes Victoria Hospital needs a stronger future, says MP

Lewes Victoria Hospital.
Lewes Victoria Hospital.

Local MP Norman Baker is demanding action to strengthen the future of Lewes Victoria Hospital.

He warned: “Lewes Vic is at risk of being only a backwater under East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.”

The range of services at the hospital should be expanded, said Mr Baker.

“This could include a wider range of non-emergency work and perhaps provide the base for an out of hours service for our excellent local GPs,” he said.

The MP is calling for responsibility for the hospital to be transferred from East Sussex Hospitals Trust, the NHS body that runs the hospitals in Hastings and Eastbourne, to local GPs in the Clinical Commissioning Group that covers Lewes, in order to safeguard its future and ensure the hospital is used to its maximum potential for local people.

Mr Baker said: “It makes no sense for the Lewes Vic to be run by an acute services NHS Trust covering the other end of the county. I opposed the transfer of the Lewes Vic to them at the time, and was told it was only a temporary move. It is clear that this is an illogical fit, but it is worse than that. Firstly, the NHS Trust is very short of money and that makes the Lewes Vic, to which they have no loyalty and precious little interest, vulnerable. Secondly, the way the Trust’s management has been embarking on a quiet salami-slicing of the Eastbourne DGH despite massive public opposition has led me to conclude that the present management is not fit for purpose and should go. In short, I simply don’t trust them with our very special Lewes Vic.”

The MP continued: “The sensible course of action now is for the Trust to transfer responsibility for the hospital to the local Clinical Commissioning Group, a body formed of our excellent local GPs who have a direct interest in the Lewes Vic, who value its presence here in the town, and who are committed to its future.”

Wendy Carberry, acting chief officer of High Weald Lewes Havens CCG, said: “CCGs hold the budget for the majority of local NHS healthcare but are not able to directly operate or provide services.

“Our key priority is to expand and improve community healthcare services available to residents.

“We are fully committed to making better use of our community hospitals, including Lewes Victoria, to enable people to be treated as close to home as possible and prevent them having to be admitted to larger hospitals.

“We look forward to working with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) and others in the coming months, and to engaging with patients and frontline staff to ensure our highly-valued community hospitals meet the needs of local people.”