One of the most ambitious service reconfiguration programmes in England is likely to end this month, with a board decision expected to keep the status quo.
A proposal to maintain inpatient paediatrics, emergency surgery and inpatient maternity services at both St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, and Worthing Hospital will be recommended to the board of NHS West Sussex on 26 November.
Plans to cut acute services met huge public and political opposition, despite claims they were led by clinical considerations rather than simply finance
Consultant led maternity services are also likely to remain at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath and not be centralised at Brighton.
The decision effectively ends the four-year “Fit for the Future” process that envisaged far fewer units providing acute services across Surrey and Sussex, with stronger community services.
Plans to cut acute services met huge public and political opposition, despite claims they were led by clinical considerations rather than simply finance. Some minor rearrangements of services were made in Surrey, but proposals to centralise services between Worthing and Chichester hospitals were put on hold when their trusts agreed to merge in April.
The merging of the hospitals to form Western Sussex Hospitals Trust has been cited as a major factor in the change of direction, with clinicians developing new ways of working that enabled services to remain at both sites.
West Sussex PCT chief executive John Wilderspin said: “That merger has allowed plans to be drawn up which retain these services on two sites and which provide a strong future for acute services in the county.”
Plans to restrict consultant led maternity services in East Sussex to one site were also thrown out by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.