STRUCTURE: Consultant led maternity and paediatric services in East Sussex will be permanently run at  Conquest Hospital in Hastings after clinical commissioning groups in the area voted to approve the proposal.

Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford, Hastings and Rother, and High Weald Lewes Havens CCGs approved the centralisation at a joint meeting on Wednesday.

The services had been temporarily moved to Conquest May last year after a national clinical advisory team report concluded that staff shortages at Eastbourne District General Hospital created “the potential for calamity” in East Sussex.

Overnight in-patient paediatrics, the special care baby unit and emergency gynaecology will also be located at Conquest alongside the consultant led maternity service.

Two midwife led birthing units will be provided at Crowborough War Memorial Hospital and Eastbourne, as well as short stay paediatric assessment units at Eastbourne and Conquest.

Campaigners in the local community fought to retain services across two hospitals and the local Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd has been an outspoken critic of the plan.

However, a joint statement from the CCGs’ chairs said: “As local clinicians we agree this is the best possible solution to achieving safe and high quality services for women and children in East Sussex.

“We arrived at this decision after careful consideration of all available evidence, including extensive public and clinical consultation that has been subject to rigorous scrutiny.”

“We fully understand the concerns expressed by some people about the prospect of traveling further to access certain services and know that many people would prefer us to provide consultant-led maternity and inpatient paediatrics over two sites. However we know it is not possible to do this safely in East Sussex and therefore a difficult decision had to be made.”