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Maternity unit closure plans

17th December 2007

A fight to keep the full complement of maternity services running at two hospitals in East Sussex looks like it has not been successful.

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Executives have recommended that one consultant-led maternity unit should operate at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, with midwife services available at the Eastbourne District General Hospital.

The plans also advise that a special care baby unit and inpatient gynaecology services would be available at the Conquest Hospital.

A petition has been sent to Downing Street by campaigners opposing the "downgrading" of services. The protest began early in 2006 and the Save Eastbourne DGH and Hands Off The Conquest campaign groups marched to show their opposition to the plans.

However Nick Yeo, chief executive of the East Sussex Downs and Weald and Hastings and Rother PCTs, has now said "the consultant-led maternity service should be based in Hastings".

Mr Yeo stated that there were plans for improved community services, ambulance crews trained in "advanced obstetric life support" and a "robust transport plan" to support transfers to Hastings.

He said he thought the plans would "offer a safer service for the women of East Sussex".

Campaigners have argued that the downgrading of services would pose a danger to women and babies. Eastbourne MP Nigel Waterson said that people in the region were "now relying on the non-executive directors of the PCTs to speak up for the needs of local people."


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