Specialist heart surgeries set to move to single East Sussex hospital

Plans to move specialist heart surgeries to a single hospital in East Sussex have been given the backing of a group of councillors.

On Thursday (June 30), the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) endorsed NHS proposals to consolidate the county’s catheterisation laboratories — where angiograms, angioplasties and of pacemaker implantations are carried out — into a single location.

This will either be Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH) or Conquest Hospital in Hastings, although the NHS says it does not currently have a preference which one.

The NHS says the proposals would help create a ‘centre of excellence’, which would help improve staff recruitment and speed up treatment time for emergency procedures once patients arrived in hospital.

Cardiac monitoring equipment

While the proposals would see the cath labs consolidated, both hospitals would retain outpatient services, non-invasive diagnostics and cardiac monitored beds, as well as cardiac rehabilitation and heart failure services.

The NHS also plans to create emergency Cardiac Response Teams and consultant-led ‘hot clinics’ at both hospitals as part of the wider changes.

Described as ‘front door’ services, the NHS says these changes would significantly reduce waiting times for people attending A&E with chest pains or other symptoms of a heart condition.

This model, which was piloted last year, is expected to reduce waiting times between presentation and treatment from 140 days down to 40 days.

Following a review, a HOSC board endorsed the proposals, saying either site would be viable.

It did, however, make a number of recommendations on how the proposals should proceed. These include putting in place a package of travel and access mitigation measures to assist patients who will have to travel further as a result of the changes.

HOSC also endorsed plans to reorganise ophthalmology services in East Sussex.

The service, which is to do with diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders, currently operates across three sites: Bexhill Hospital, Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH.

The NHS plans to move day and outpatient services out of Conquest Hospital to Bexhill Hospital instead. The ophthalmology services at Eastbourne DGH would not be affected by the change.

The proposal would not affect unplanned or emergency care.