A once in a lifetime chance for Eastbourne hospital services

From: Sandy Medway, Former non-executive director, Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust (fore-runner to current East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust)

I have become very concerned about the loss of urgent care services at our local DGH.

We have already lost in-patient beds for orthopaedics; obstetrics; paediatrics and general surgery with others I know about under review.

The latest is the transfer of ophthalmology to Bexhill, and the upcoming closure of psychiatric in-patient beds.

Eastbourne DGH, District General Hospital. July 19th 2013 E30007P SUS-150104-121632001

Why can’t a new psychiatric unit be built as part of our new hospital, instead of at Bexhill, which is being proposed?

Our town’s population has doubled since the DGH was built.

So too, has the population increased across the district, to the west and north.

Yet, alarmingly, many previous in-patient services have moved east to Bexhill and Hastings where 
transport and road networks are poor.

Geography matters to both patients and staff when 24/7 urgent care is needed, and this is especially true in coastal and rural areas, as is evidenced and recognised by our government.

It is the reason our town has received funding to build a new hospital, and it is rather more than just a pot to simply refurbish wards and paint scruffy offices.

Nor is it to share out among all the various buildings the local NHS Trust is responsible for maintaining.

It is money to build a new hospital in Eastbourne.

Local people and NHS leaders have a once in a lifetime opportunity now to work together on a fresh vision for essential and urgent care services to be available within our district.

We need to retain 24/7 a local A&E department and in-patient paediatrics; obstetrics; acute medical admissions (heart and stroke); general surgery and psychiatric services.

These services need operating theatres, pathology and radiology.

If we were to build new units for women and children’s services (obstetrics and paediatrics), and also for psychiatry (additional funding already allocated for this) it will attract new staff, because they will be drawn to work in state-of-the-art surroundings.

Maybe we will see 2-3,000 births per year again in Eastbourne, rather than under 300, which is now the case.

These new, and much needed units, will free up space for the redevelopment, reconfiguration and retention of other urgent care disciplines to be made available in both towns.

I would be interested to know what other readers think.