STRUCTURE: A campaign group has called for its local hospital to be run by a private company or another trust if its last ditch attempt to keep consultant led maternity fails.

Liz Walke, chair of Eastbourne’s Save the DGH, says a Hinchingbrooke-type solution could preserve services at the town’s hospital, which is run by East Sussex Healthcare Trust

“I’m not saying that Hinchingbrooke would be the right answer for us but it is certainly another alternative,” she added.

“The view of the campaign group is that if it keeps core services in our local hospital then it is a bitter pill to swallow but swallow it we will.”

A merger with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust - which already runs a district general hospital in Haywards Heath - could also be a solution, she added.

East Sussex Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee is due to consider at the end of this month whether to refer to the health secretary the controversial plan to centralise consultant led maternity, overnight paediatric care and emergency gynaecology at Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

Consultant led maternity services were already moved to Hastings last year by East Sussex Healthcare as an emergency measure because of staffing shortages, leaving a midwife led unit at Eastbourne.

Save the DGH now fears the maternity changes could lead to the loss of other services.

“It’s a domino effect, when you start losing essential services the others will come under pressure,” said Ms Walke.

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said he would continue to look at all options.  

Darren Grayson, chief executive of the trust, said the temporary reconfiguration had led to improvements after safety and sustainability concerns.

“The Save the DGH campaign group, which Liz Walke chairs, has not been able to produce any credible evidence that demonstrates that two site provision could be restored in a way that addresses the issues that led to these concerns.”