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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

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Statement in support of Staff at the Eastbourne DGH.

July 3, 2014 9:55 AM

I am sorry that I am unable to attend today's demonstration in support of the staff at the DGH. The proposed changes brought about by Senior Managers at East Sussex Healthcare Trust (EHST) have led to an uncertain future for many staff in Eastbourne.

The Trust managers have spread services ever more thinly across East Sussex, dragging morale levels to new lows and forcing residents in East Sussex to travel longer distances to receive vital medical treatment that formerly could be given conveniently at our Eastbourne DGH. Grayson's Downgrade has resulted in uncertainty for patients, families, and of course, staff.

Every week I receive correspondence from employees at the DGH and from within the community NHS, including from Clinical and Administrative roles, attesting to the damaging effects on patient care and staff welfare that these changes are having. Yet it seems the Trust continually ignore these concerns and the negative impact they are having on staff morale.

They also completely ignore the local residents who have unanimously declared their opposition to any core service downgrades by the senior managers. 35,000 people in Eastbourne signed a petition against the changes in 2012 - 35,000! That is figure which simply cannot, and should not be ignored.

Most worryingly, they have also ignored the decision of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel which declared in 2008 that the transport links were too poor to allow this change to go ahead. The Panel spent a long time analysing the A259 - once named as the most dangerous road in East Sussex - before coming to their conclusion. Since this damning verdict, the road has not improved and travel times remain high. Yet the ESHT still feel this is an acceptable time to overrule the national panel purposefully set up to oppose unfeasible changes such as these.

Throughout these upheavals, many staff at the Trust have been left in the lurch with unanswered questions over their future. In addition to the possibility of posts moving to Hastings, rumours continue to swirl around pay, conditions and the rebanding of posts.

A fully functioning Eastbourne DGH is imperative for our town's long term future but this relies on the leadership of competent senior managers who genuinely care for the interests of the staff members. I would urge the Chief Executive Darren Grayson and Chairman Stuart Welling meet with the staff representatives today to discuss their views and find a productive way through which benefits local patients, our hospital and all the staff who work there.