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Eastbourne and St Leonards hospital inspections branded a whitewash
Campaigners dismissed an inspection of services at two hospitals as a “whitewash”.
The Care Quality Commission gave Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH) and Conquest Hospital in St Leonards a clean bill of health following a visit in June.
Both hospitals were found to be meeting five government standards, including the care and welfare of people using services, staffing and safeguarding people who use services from abuse.
The unannounced inspections were carried out a month after a move to temporarily downgrade the consultant-led maternity unit at the DGH to a midwife led one.
All consultant maternity services are now based at the Conquest, along with children's inpatient services, which have also been lost from Eastbourne.
Bosses at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said the changes were made for safety reasons because of concerns over recruiting staff to provide full cover at both hospitals.
However campaigners believe lives will be put at risk if pregnant women needing urgent treatment or critically ill children have to travel from Eastbourne to St Leonards.
Inspectors also investigated concerns raised by paediatricians at Eastbourne about the safety of the changes but said they were satisfied with what they had found.
Trust chief executive Darren Grayson said: “ We are delighted the care quality commission has found we are meeting all essential standards inspected in our maternity and paediatric services.
“Making the temporary changes to the configuration of these services was not done lightly.
“We welcome external scrutiny of our services and it is important to us to know what others think of the care we provide.”
Liz Walke from the Save the DGH group said: “I feel the report is a whitewash.
“What we do know is that it has been a nightmare for local women and sick children with their families to get to St Leonards and there are serious concerns that there will be a tragedy.
“We saw, just three days into the changes, a baby born at the side of the road.
“And only recently two students were taken miles away to an A&E department in St Leonards when they were two minutes away from the DGH.
“We need these services back at the DGH before a tragedy happens.”
Mrs Walke called on supporters to join the campaign group for a march and demonstration around the DGH on Saturday, September 7, from 10am.
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