A health committee considering decisions made by NHS Sussex, about the future of some hospital services in the county, has agreed to support the decisions.
The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met today in Lewes to decide whether the ‘Shaping our Future’ proposals are in the best interests of residents.
NHS Sussex wants to provide a specialist stroke unit at Eastbourne District General Hospital (EDGH); and a specialist emergency and higher risk orthopaedic and general surgery unit at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
The Committee has listened carefully and thoroughly to all the views for and against the proposals over the past few months, ensuring that all the arguments were properly considered. The Committee understands how strongly people feel about their health services. It was also rigorous in basing its decision on detailed clinical evidence and best practice.
Councillor Rupert Simmons, HOSC chairman, said: “We have a duty to consider how the NHS organises its services to get the best outcomes for all patients that use them, within the resources available. We are very mindful of public concerns about access and travel, but we have supported these changes, which affect a relatively small number of people, on the basis that pooling resources and investing in services at one site will improve the quality of care.
“Many hospital doctors and GPs have spoken strongly in favour of the proposals and say that ultimately they will drive up standards of care for patients in East Sussex.
“We note the assurances given by the NHS that both Eastbourne DGH and the Conquest will remain viable acute hospitals for the future. We have made 20 recommendations to the NHS to ensure the issues and concerns that have been raised are addressed as far as possible.”
The recommendations include:
- ensuring there is good cover by doctors on both hospital sites so that patients can be assessed and transferred appropriately where needed
- ensuring there are effective arrangements in place with ambulance services to take patients directly to the best place for their care
- investigating the possibility of a shuttle bus between sites, and
- reviewing visitor arrangements so there is maximum flexibility for patients’ families and carers.
HOSC looks at the work of the primary care trusts and National Health Service (NHS) trusts and the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority. It acts as a ‘critical friend’ by suggesting ways that health related services might be improved.
It is made up of representatives from:
- East Sussex County Council
- Eastbourne Borough Council
- Lewes District Council
- Rother District Council
- Wealden District Council
- Hastings Borough Council
- The voluntary sector