Decision time on future of maternity and children’s services at the Conquest

HEALTH bosses will be deciding the future of maternity and children’s services at the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH later this month.

The three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which hold the purse strings for health services in East Sussex, are meeting on Wednesday, June 25 from 2.30pm at the Winter Gardens in Eastbourne.

Six proposals for the future of maternity services in the area were first published last December as part of the Better Beginnings review but none of them call for both the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne’s DGH to have a full consultant-led unit.

In them there are proposals to have a consultant-led maternity unit either at the Conquest on The Ridge or at the DGH but not both.

In May last year consultant-led maternity was centralised at the Conquest while the DGH’s unit was turned into one led by midwives after East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, made the decision two months earlier.

Campaigners from both Hands off the Conquest and Save the DGH fiercely opposed the move at the time and still strongly believe both hospitals should keep full consultant-led maternity units. Both groups fought against similar proposals in 2008 when the then Secretary of State overturned NHS bosses’ plans.

The CCGs will also be making a decision on emergency gynaecology services, as well as in-patient paediatrics. A public consultation ran from January 14 to April 8 this year.

Dr Roger Elias, chairman of Hastings and Rother CCG, said: “We know how important NHS services are for local people and we are determined to commission safe, high quality services for local women and children in the long term. We are very grateful to everyone who got involved in the consultation. It was a great response. We had conversations with some 1,500 people at around 40 Better Beginnings public engagement events. Thousands of people visited our website to find out more about the proposals and hundreds completed our survey.

“Our decision will be based on the best possible clinical evidence, and informed by widespread engagement with the public, service users, partners and local clinicians both in developing the six options and during the Better Beginnings consultation period.”