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1,200 march against plans to downgrade Eastbourne maternity services
Campaigners united to march against the downgrading of maternity services at the Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH).
More than 1,200 people, including the town’s MP Stephen Lloyd, marched around the perimeter of the DGH on Saturday to show a united front against the downgrading of services made by the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHNT).
Liz Walke, chairman of the Save the DGH campaign, said: “We were particularly pleased because a high proportion of those who marched were young people and families with young children and there were so many with push chairs – it was a fantastic turnout.”
The march comes four months after the Eastbourne hospital was changed from a consultant-led maternity unit to a midwife-led one.
The changes also mean children are no longer able to stay overnight on Friston Ward.
Consultant services are now based at the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards.
A giant postcard with more than 8,000 signatures from supporters of the Save the DGH campaign was brought to the march sending a clear message that campaigners would keep fighting to keep core services at both hospitals.
The board in charge of DGH claims the decision was necessary to ensure the safety of the services and followed a decision in November 2012 to centralise emergency general surgery and emergency orthopaedics.
Speaking earlier this year, chief executive Darren Grayson said: “We all know that it is easy to make changes after an incident has occurred.
“What is more challenging but is the right thing to do is to make changes now to ensure the service is as safe as possible to avoid any preventable risks to a mother or her baby.
“As the accountable officer, I have ultimate responsibility for safety in this organisation and I have to listen and take action when senior doctors, midwifery staff and agencies tell me it is not sustainable on safety grounds to continue.”
However, Mrs Walke said: “These decisions are being made by people who live outside the area and don’t understand how treacherous the journey from Eastbourne to Hastings is.
“Both Hastings and Eastbourne must retain their core services. We absolutely believe it is dangerous not to.”
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