Major changes to hospitals in West Sussex have been referred to the health secretary after councillors said there was 'insufficient clarity' about which services would be provided where.

West Sussex primary care trust chief executive John Wilderspin, speaking on behalf of West Sussex and Brighton and Hove PCTs, said he was "disappointed" at the decision by the joint overview and scrutiny committee, which comes after two years of discussions and formal consultation about changes in the area. The PCT expects the independent reconfiguration panel to examine the plans.

The proposals, which would see St Richard's Hospital in Chichester and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath lose some of their services, with consultant-led maternity, inpatient children's services and emergency surgery centralised at Worthing Hospital, have been opposed by many local politicians.

Council takeover

Councillors recently called for the council to take over West Sussex PCT, saying it would make it more democratically accountable, but have yet to hear from the health secretary about this suggestion.

The overview committee, which includes representatives from local authorities across Sussex as well as other affected regions, highlighted concerns about which services were to be provided at the hospitals, a lack of clinical consensus for the changes, the future financial sustainability of St Richard's and whether retention of consultant-led maternity services at all hospitals had been adequately explored.