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Public to have their say on hospital changes
Thousands of people are today being given the chance to have their say about plans to change their hospitals.
A public consultation on plans to shake-up some services in East Sussex will run for 14 weeks.
Health bosses currently run stroke care, emergency orthopaedic and emergency surgery at both Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital in St Leonards.
They are now considering centralising these services at one of the two hospitals instead.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, says the changes will help it attract the specialist staff it needs to run the services.
Specialists need to see a certain number of cases a year to keep their skill levels up and are more likely to transfer to hospitals that can guarantee a high number of patients.
Managers say that having almost all patients at one hospital instead of two will help this happen and will also cut down on the number of operations cancelled at the last minute because of staff shortages.
However campaigners say lives will be put at risk because the changes will mean hundreds of patients a year will have to travel at least 20 miles or more for urgent treatment.
They warned the fight to keep full maternity services at both hospitals five years ago was successful and that they were prepared to fight again.
Trust medical director Andy Slater said: “Staff at both Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital work incredibly hard to provide excellent care. This is about improving our services so we can do even better.”
The Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford clinical commissioning group is responsible for ensuring the right services are provided in the right place.
Chairman and Eastbourne GP Martin Writer said: “Like everyone in East Sussex, we want Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital to remain thriving major sites.
“These proposals are not a threat to that ambition they are a means of achieving it.
“They are about raising the standard of care in three specialist areas.
“On occasions some patients will need to travel further for some specialist services but these changes will guarantee the right specialist teams are in place, at the right time, with dedicated facilities for recovery before going home.”
The consultation end at midnight on Friday September 28.
During this time there will be a range of opportunities, including public meetings, for people to hear about the proposal, talk to the clinical teams involved and to give their views.
Full details can be found at www.esht.nhs.uk/shapingour future.
Paper copies of the consultation are available by calling the Shaping our Future consultation team on 01273 485300.