Maternity service

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I AM responding to the advert you carried last week from the Labour Party and the GMB Union regarding the current consultation on maternity and related services in East Sussex, which exhorts us to ‘Save our Maternity Services’.

While it is right and important to raise awareness about the consultation, and not be complacent in the slightest, the facts on the ground - in the form of the changes that have gone ahead in recent months with the Conquest retaining a consultant-led unit and Eastbourne DGH developing an excellent midwife-led one - suggest that major changes to the current offer, which has begun to bed in, would run against the tide.

When I gave evidence to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel in 2008-9, the last time changes to these services were being planned, the key issue was journey times for maternity emergencies. The road infrastructure has not improved since then.

And what won the campaign was the determination of Hands off the Conquest (on whose committee I serve) particularly in the form of its chairman Margaret Williams, to keep all the political parties and both constituencies campaigning together.

I am concerned that local Labour has not contacted the Hands off the Conquest committee, nor sought a cross-party, never mind pan-East Sussex position.

I repeat my recent direct plea to Labour to refrain from raising Hastings and Rye’s anxieties, and instead to concentrate on working with the likes of Eastbourne Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd to ensure that women, wherever they live in East Sussex, have access to timely emergency maternity care as of right.


Parliamentary spokesman

Hastings and Rye Lib Dems