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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Lloyd and Baker raise concerns over Maternity and Paediatrics Consultation.

December 12, 2013 3:42 PM

Stephen Lloyd MP and Norman Baker MP have both expressed strong concerns regarding the Consultation into Maternity and Paediatrics provision in East Sussex, which was launched by the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) this week. CCGs are the new commissioning bodies that provide the funds for Eastbourne DGH, the Conquest, as well as health care in the community such as district nurses and community matrons. They are led by local GPs.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust (ESHT) decided earlier this year to remove consultant-led Maternity and Paediatric provision at the Eastbourne DGH. This means that many families from Eastbourne, Polegate and Seaford are having to travel to Hastings where previously they would have been seen at the DGH. This change was intended to be a temporary move and the CCG have just launched their consultation into the future of these services. They are offering 6 options, but none of these provide for full consultant-led provision at both Eastbourne and Hastings sites. The options include one with consultant-led Maternity in Eastbourne with midwife-led in Hastings, and others with the opposite.

In 2008 ESHT previously tried to downgrade Maternity services at Eastbourne DGH in favour of single-siting them at the Conquest Hospital in Hasting but this was overturned by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), who found that, amongst other recommendations, 'there is an unquantifiable risk of incidents during transfer or transport of women during labour'

Stephen Lloyd MP said: "I am extremely disappointed that the CCGs are not offering consultant-led Maternity provisions at both sites. When the Hospitals Trust announced the changes to Maternity and Paediatric provisions were only temporary, I and many other Eastbourne residents rightly expected that this would mean the option for both sites to host consultant-led Maternity was alive and well. Instead the CCGs have ruled out this possibility, which is incredibly disappointing to me and, I am sure, the vast majority of local residents. Just six years ago, the IRP were adamant both sites must have consultant-led Maternity provision for the safety of mothers and their babies. Since then, the road has not been improved and Eastbourne remains the fastest growing town in East Sussex. It just doesn't add up."

He added: "I will also be seeking a commitment from the doctors that this is a genuine consultation, and not just a pointless exercise to validate the Trust's obvious desire to site Consultant-led Maternity at Hastings alone. We have already seen the Shaping our Future flawed consultation return results that exactly fit the Trust's intentions, and I am determined to receive assurances that this time Eastbourne's voice will be heard, listened to, and acted upon."

Norman Baker went on to say: "I am becoming increasingly concerned about the direction of travel at the DGH - which is away from our area and towards Hastings. A two-tier health service is being created in East Sussex with the DGH in Tier 2. For 6 options to be offered, none of which provides for the delivery of key services on the two sites, is a consultation with a huge hole in the middle. The question being asked is 'how would you like to be downgraded?' That is simply not acceptable."