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East Sussex healthcare protesters on the march
1:53pm Monday 17th September 2012 in News
Thousands of people marched against plans to cut and centralise health services in East Sussex.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital in St Leonards, wants to centralise stroke care, emergency orthopaedics and emergency surgery at a single hospital.
But campaigners are opposed to proposals claiming it will lead to a domino effect with other services scrapped.
Thousands of people, concerned that lives will be put at risk by the 40 minute travel time between the two hospitals, marched through Eastbourne in protest against the plans.
Speakers included the town’s MP, Stephen Lloyd and Lewes MP Norman Baker.
Protest organiser Liz Walke, from Save the DGH, said: “The protest went really well. It is so important that we keep services local and people have said it resoundingly in their thousands.”
She added cutting core services would “inevitably” lead to other cuts.
Mrs Walke said: “Money is a huge issue and we believe this is the main driver but we maintain core services are not negotiable.
“The trust which run the hospitals have never balanced their books since merging in 2002, and have continually had issues with quality as some core services which should be 24/7 have been not been operating in the evenings or weekends.
“This is wrong and should never happen. If these services go, it is inevitable that others, such as maternity and paediatrics, will soon follow."
But East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said the current proposals will “significantly improve the quality of care” while securing its long term future.
It said: “We know that for small numbers of patients, it may be further to travel depending on which hospital sites are chosen to deliver these services, but we believe the better quality care people can expect is worth it.”
It also denies the services currently under threat are the first in a long line earmarked for centralisation.
No decision has yet been taken on which services could be cut from which hospital. It comes after a high-profile campaign in 2008 when campaigners successfully fought to maintain the maternity unit.
Thousands of people took the streets in protest and the proposal was eventually rejected by the Government following a judicial review.
Consultation on the current plans ends on September 28.
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