Campaigners drop judicial review calls

THE fight to stop changes to three emergency services at the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH is over after campaigners decided not to launch a legal challenge against the unpopular proposals.

In December the health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) voted in favour of basing emergency orthopaedic surgery and emergency general surgery at the Conquest and moving stroke services to the DGH.

Members of the Save the DGH group launched legal proceedings to push for a judicial review but this week announced it was abandoning the move, saying the risk of failure was too high.

Stroke patients will now have to face a journey of almost 18 miles to get to the DGH for treatment.

Both Hands off the Conquest and Save the DGH want to see all emergency services kept at both hospitals.

Liz Walke, chairman of Save the DGH, said by the time the judicial review had come about the changes to the three services at both the Conquest and DGH would already have been implemented. She said the cost of the legal challenge was ‘significant’.

Ms Walke added: “Losing stroke services is the most serious thing that has hit Hastings in a long time. It’s fundamentally and morally wrong. It’s absolutely vital to be treated for a stroke quickly and if it’s not the consequences are devastating. The road between Hastings and Eastbourne is notoriously bad.”

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, welcomed the decision and insists centralising the three services will improve patient care.

A trust spokesman said: “We are continuing to focus on the implementation of our proposals to improve the quality of stroke care, emergency orthopaedic and emergency general surgery by centralising these services. Our guiding principle has always been, and remains, the safety and future clinical sustainability of our services. The campaigners argued for no change but the evidence is that this would have led to poorer outcomes for patients.

“We believe our proposals will deliver better results for patients, better access to expert clinicians and better recovery rates.”