Protestors to march

CAMPAIGNERS battling to save services at the Conquest Hospital from being downgraded or cut are joining their Eastbourne counterparts tomorrow (Saturday) in a demonstration.

Hands off the Conquest will be marching alongside those from Save the DGH, who also want to see all emergency services remain at both hospitals.

Margaret Williams, chairman of Hands off the Conquest, said: “We would urge as many residents in 1066 Country to join us. We must fight to save our emergency services. The public consultation to single site stroke, emergency surgery and emergency orthopaedics ends on September 28 and we do not know which hospital will lose out.

“People marched with us before over maternity and people power won out. We would urge people to march with us again. If enough turn out on Saturday the NHS will have to listen. Don’t forget that this is only the beginning, later in the year we will be fighting again when the Clinical Commissioning Group and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust will try to revisit the single siting of consultant-led maternity services. Nothing has changed since the last time, except that there are more cars on the A259, the ninth most dangerous road in the country. Until there is a proper infrastructure in East Sussex emergency services must stay local to both hospitals.”

Health bosses say up to 15 patients a day will have to travel either to Eastbourne or Hastings if their proposals come into effect.

General surgery deals with abdominal organs, such as the stomach and intestines, and the higher risk and emergency work will be based at either the Conquest or Eastbourne’s DGH. Emergency orthopaedics, such as fractured hips, would also be centralised at one or the other hospital, similarly with stroke services. More than 500 people have thrown their weight behind Hands off the Conquest campaigners by signing two petitions. Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd is holding a public meeting on the consultation, called Shaping Our Future, next Friday (September 21) from 6pm at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Marina, St Leonards. There will be a panel of speakers, including clinicians and representatives from Hands of the Conquest and Ms Rudd will chair the event.

Mrs Williams said: “This will be an excellent opportunity for local people to hear both sides of the story, and for us to have a real airing of the proposals, including what we consider to be conflicting information and mistakes.”

Tomorrow’s march starts at the Redoubt Fortress on Eastbourne seafront at 10am. More details about Shaping our Future can be found by logging onto www.esht.nhs.uk/shapingourfuture. To sign the e-petition log onto www.handsofftheconquest.org/petition.