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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Liz Walke, local doctors and MP give evidence to HOSC

February 17, 2014 2:49 PM

On Monday this week Liz Walke, retired local Drs Geitzen and Valentine and Stephen Lloyd MP gave evidence to the Health and Overview Scrutiny Meeting (HOSC) who are leading an enquiry into Eastbourne Clinical Community Group's (CCG) document Better Beginnings - Maternity and Paediatrics in East Sussex. This report is presenting six options of maternity provision for Eastbourne District General Hospital, the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and the Crowborough Midwife Birthing Unit.

Liz Walke said: "I made a point of reading out a list of concerns from the Trusts Board papers that show just how poor the current leadership of the Trust is. For instance, the risk assessment for one of the statements 'we are unable to demonstrate continuous and sustained improvement in patient safety and the quality of care we provide which could impact on our registration and compliance with regulatory bodies' scores amber. Now the words which stick out to me are that they are unable to demonstrate continuous and sustained improvement in patient safety! This is just one of 11 risk assessment statements made by ESHT and all bar one score amber or red. This is their internal scoring and I think pretty damning. And we, local people have no alternative than to use this service. And then, with ESHT's reputation, it is no surprise that recruitment is an issue. Something needs to be done and soon, and it's not just in maternity."

She added: "HOSC are the one body who can force either the CCG or the Hospital Trust to revisit their whole approach to maternity provision for mums in Eastbourne and the surrounding area. I do hope and pray they use these powers to stop the DGH losing its consultant led maternity before it is too late."

Stephen Lloyd MP said: "It is really important that any final decision on our own maternity service must be properly objective and put safety first, irrespective of cost. Consequently, I read out a series of comments that I'd received from a senior clinician who works in this area. They wish to remain anonymous as they were concerned, in their opinion, that the current climate at our local Hospital Trust was not sympathetic to open criticism. Their document to me concluded with the following: 'from Eastbourne's perspective, your CCG consultation looks to me like an expensive exercise in obfuscation. I suspect they have already decided on option six (retaining single citing consultant let maternity at Hastings, and midwife led maternity at the DGH), and only HOSC can stop the process by asking them to think again.'"

In answer to Councillor John Ungar's question to the MP as to whether or not staff at ESHT felt free to raise their concerns over the direction the hospital was going, Stephen said: "One of my frustrations is that I, along with Liz Walke, have been contacted by numerous members of staff over the last year or so, but despite me asking them they tell me that they are too fearful to go public. Meanwhile the senior management at the Trust accuse me of scaremongering over this issue because, I suspect, they know I cannot persuade people to tell the media what they express to me. I do understand the anxieties that staff have which is why I'm concerned there might be a climate of intimidation in the hospital and across other parts of the Trust. Frankly, the only people who can change this atmosphere are the senior managers themselves and, like many other people in Eastbourne, I have severe doubts that we will see any positive movements from them any time soon."