Hundreds of people took to the streets of Eastbourne at the weekend to protest against further downgrading of the DGH.
Members of GMB, the union for staff of the NHS, and the Save the DGH campaign team marched through the town centre on Saturday (November 28) over concerns the hospital’s 24/7 A&E could be lost if bed numbers fall below 400 - an increasing possibility considering recent ward closures.
Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said, “We were delighted with Eastbourne’s public response to the threat to their A&E. Everyone was very vocal and upbeat that the continuing campaign, although possibly long and hard, is worth pursuing.”
The East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust has reassured Eastbourne residents that there is no danger of the DGH’s 24/7 A&E being downgraded to minor injury or cottage hospital status. However, Gary Palmer added, “The problem is Eastbourne’s heard it before, when there was no threat to move consultant-led maternity and overnight paediatrics out of the DGH, and look how that promise turned out.”
Amanda Philpott, chief officer of Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG, said, “It is understandable that some people may have concerns about the prospect of travelling further to receive certain hospital services.
“However, it has been clearly proven that the single-siting of specialist services is resulting in safer and better care for patients, despite some people having to travel further.
“Consultant-led maternity (centralised at the Conquest since May 2013), and emergency stroke care (centralised at the Eastbourne DGH since July 2013), have shown particular improvement in clinical care, regardless of where you live.
“These decisions were made by local clinicians for safety and quality reasons, informed by widespread consultation and the best available evidence.
“The services have been subject to independent review from expert bodies including the National Clinical Advisory Team, Care Quality Commission and Royal Colleges, and we can confidently demonstrate they are providing safer, better care for local people.”
Darren Grayson, chief executive, said, “Yet again, the GMB are causing unnecessary anxiety for patients and staff at Eastbourne DGH by scaremongering with rumours and untruths.
“To repeat what I have said before, Eastbourne DGH will continue to provide the services most people need most often. This includes Accident and Emergency, acute medicine, cardiology, diabetes, haematology, gastroenterology, stroke services, elective surgery and day surgery. It will also provide midwifery led maternity services, paediatric assessment, outpatients, radiology and all other essential support services.
“Eastbourne DGH plays a key role in providing healthcare services to the people of East Sussex and the Trust continues to develop and invest in it.”