A controversial shake up of maternity and children's hospital services in East Sussex has been made permanent.

Members of the East Sussex health overview and scrutiny committee yesterday voted the move was the best way to ensure safe, high quality services for women and children.

The changes were formally approved by the county's clinical commissioning groups last month.

The scrutiny committee had the power to refer the decision to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt but decided not to.

The changes mean Eastbourne District General Hospital will have a midwife-run maternity service and the consultant-led service, plus children's inpatient facilities, will be based at Conquest Hospital in St Leonards.

A separate midwife unit will continue to operate at Crowborough.

Consultant-led units had previously been based at both Eastbourne and St Leonards but the Eastbourne one was temporarily downgraded more than a year ago because of safety fears caused by problems recruiting staff.

The change means women suffering complications in labour will have to travel to St Leonards or alternative hospitals in Brighton or Kent.

Campaigners in Eastbourne say the changes will put women's lives at risk as they will have to travel further for specialist help.