Are children’s lives at risk if shake-up of ENT services goes ahead?

There’s mounting opposition among doctors in Hastings and Eastbourne to what they consider an ‘unjustified’ plan to move Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services out of Hastings say local Labour campaigners

Party activists say they have uncovered damning evidence that the shake-up in ENT services in Hastings would make it less, not more, safe for patients.

The changes being proposed would see ENT operations carried out at Eastbourne District General Hospital (EDGH) rather than at the Conquest in Hastings as at present

Children suffering acute emergencies, such as bleeding from a tonsillectomy, would no longer be treated at the Conquest but sent to Eastbourne. Labour campaigners say they have been told by a source at the Conquest this could be a potentially dangerous situation if the bleeding was particularly bad. Yet greater safety was one of the arguments put to East Sussex County Council’s Health Oversight and Scrutiny Committee, which agreed to support the move by East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT).

A senior clinician has told the Labour party that safety was one of a number of factors that make the proposed reorganisation unjustified.

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Labour says:

  • There are only basic paediatric services at Eastbourne (unlike in Hastings), making ENT surgery for children at Eastbourne less safe.
  • Three of the on-call ENT doctors at Eastbourne are about to retire, which means there will more specialist doctors in Hastings.
  • Brighton Hospital Trust say they do not have the spare capacity to help out – one of the justifications for the move to Eastbourne.
  • Uckfield Hospital, unlike the Conquest, will continue to offer ENT day surgery but it is not equipped to handle medical emergencies of any kind. In the event of complications clinicians there have been told to dial 999!

In order to free up space for ENT operating theatres in Eastbourne, gynaecology services would have to move out to Hastings and this say Labour is being opposed by gynaecology consultants in Eastbourne who have refused to cooperate with the Trust’s bosses and that could delay the transfer of ENT services from the Conquest to the EDGH, slated to take place from April 1st.

Peter Chowney, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye, has already launched a campaign to keep ENT services at the Conquest and says: “When I launched my campaign back in December, I was concerned about the loss of these services from Hastings and Rye, and the problems that would give to people who have no car, particularly if they have children who need ENT surgery.

hospital-access-control
ENT services could be lost from the Conquest Hospital.

“But this new information from sources at the Conquest Hospital is even more worrying – it seems that it’s now not just about inconvenience and access to services, but also about safety and quality of care.

“Senior clinical staff at the Conquest Hospital have not been formally consulted about these changes. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust must put this decision on hold until the concerns of hospital staff have been taken into account.”

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