Facebook protest over Hastings maternity fears

AN online campaign has been set up in protest over fears that the Conquest Hospital could lose its consultant-led maternity services.

The Facebook campaign, comes amid the local NHS review into services for mothers-to-be at both the hospital on The Ridge and its sister one, Eastbourne DGH.

It has been set up by Nick Perry, LibDem spokesman for Hastings and Rye, and comes after Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, told the Observer earlier this month that she feared the unpopular plans to downgrade either the Conquest’s or DGH’s maternity unit were back on the agenda.

She, together with Liz Walke, her counterpart from Save the DGH, won a fight in December 2007 to keep full maternity units when the NHS trust was looking to downgrade either the Conquest’s or DGH’s.

Thousands marched along the seafront in both Hastings and Eastbourne to make their feelings known and managed to convince the Secretary of State to back the option which involved keeping both sites open.

Now though, just more than three years after the landmark decision, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has ordered a full review of maternity services at both hospitals.

Mr Perry said: “Margaret and others, including myself, campaigned long and hard for the two-site solution. This was because it was the safest solution for local mothers and babies. My first child was born at the Conquest in November 2007 having required an emergency transfer to the hospital from a protracted home birth. This journey was difficult enough over the 10 minutes or less that it took from where we live in Hastings. I dread to think what it would have been like to have had to travel to Eastbourne or further during that stressful time. The journey times involved are unacceptable and unsafe.

“I understand that the trust finds itself in a difficult financial position at the moment. But the trust should be warned that if it starts down this road again there will be massive local opposition.”

The campaign homepage can be found at www.facebook.com/pages/Hands-Off-Conquest-Maternity-and-Emergency-Services-Again/234228576614848. People need to sign up to Facebook to access it and join.