Decision time nears over changes

Brett McLean is pictured (right) with Margaret Williams of the campaign and Peter Archer 1066 Country Branch Secretary (left)
Brett McLean is pictured (right) with Margaret Williams of the campaign and Peter Archer 1066 Country Branch Secretary (left)

UP TO 2,000 people have signed petitions in protest against plans to change three key services at the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne’s DGH.

NHS bosses want to change general surgery services, musculoskeletal and orthopaedic services, and stroke services.

General surgery and the higher risk and emergency work will be based at either the Conquest or Eastbourne’s DGH.

Emergency orthopaedics and stroke services would also be centralised. Campaigners from Hands off the Conquest are urging people to keep signing the online petition at www.handsofftheconquest.org and download a letter to send to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in protest, as a final decision will be made by NHS Sussex at its meeting at the Kings Centre, Eastbourne on November 23, starting at 9.30am.

Bosses at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest and DGH, are also making their recommendation at a meeting on November 15. Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, said: “We have found out there were only 464 responses to the consultation, which we have worked out as 0.001 per cent of the East Sussex population, so we do not consider that sufficient for a decision to be made.

“I’ve printed off 2,000 letters to the Health Secretary and have 500 left, so he should have received a large fan mail.

“Both Hastings and Eastbourne need all emergency services kept local. Unless there is massive investment in our road infrastructure everything should remain as it is.”

Dr Andy Slater, medical director for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said the proposals were not about downgrading either the Conquest or DGH but providing two fully utilised hospitals as centres of excellence.

He stressed both the Conquest and DGH will keep a full A&E, day case surgery will remain unchanged and outpatients’ appointments will stay at the hospital most convenient to where the patient lives.

He said: “We have got a substantial change ahead of us, not just in East Sussex but in the NHS as a whole. Health care is changing and becoming ever more hi-tech, the demand is increasing and doctors and nurses are ever more specialised in what they do.”