We had a visit from James Pavey and Ray Savage from SECAmb. James (Regional Operations Manager East) gave us a presentation on the service. It is very clear that SECAmb has made substantive improvements to the services provided to the public in recent years, though they were open about the fact that much still needs to be done against a backdrop of a number of challenges. For urgent cases/emergencies they are generally meeting or exceeding targets, their acknowledged weakness being meeting targets for less urgent issues.
Obviously our key interest is the issues that affect services at Eastbourne DGH and the Conquest at Hastings and the movement of patients between the towns/hospitals. NHS decision criteria/metrics are based upon distance/travel time but we remain concerned for patient safety in travelling between Eastbourne and Hastings where the travel time between the hospitals is noted to be 30-45 minutes (Source:Google Maps). SECAmb does not have access to outcome statistics for Maternity Transfers (so they were unable to answer whether their travel times are sufficient for emergency maternity transfers or not). It is , however, very clear that the Ambulance service is providing us the best they can and we need to support them accordingly.Separately we note that in a 2010 study (Netherlands) based upon 751,926 singleton term hospital births the conclusion was drawn that "a travel time from home to hospital of 20 minutes or more by car is associated with an increased risk of mortality and adverse outcomes in women at term. These findings should be considered in plans for the centralisation of obstetric care”. To our knowledge no such equivalent study has been carried out in the UK, but 20 minutes or less would surely be an impossible ask of an emergency vehicle on blue light let alone any Eastbourne based parent assigned to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings?
Eastbourne Maternity Unit (EMU): We had an encouraging meeting with the staff at EMU who have worked hard to provide an excellent home from home facility for local women and their babies. Antenatal, intrapartum (labour) and postnatal care are provided. A "low risk" criteria is in place to assess EMU as a suitable place for a woman to birth her baby there. This also offers an alternative facility to Hastings thus avoiding the travelling time. A refurbished "sensory" birthing room will soon be available to encourage an even more relaxed and peaceful environment. EMU now has an integrated team of Community Midwives. Postnatal care is provided, not just for those who have had their babies at EMU, but also for mothers who have delivered at Hastings and would like help after the birth, especially regarding breast feeding. It was felt that mothers who had had previous uncomplicated pregnancies and births could be encouraged to explore the possibility of choosing EMU for subsequesnt births. EMU are justly proud of the gold standard that they have been awarded.
Thank you to everyone who supported us at Eastbourne Carnival. We now also have a new banner picture!
The East Sussex Health Overview Scrutiny Committee met last week and unfortunately did not have a vote to refer to the Secretary of State for Heath for an independent review on Maternity Services in East Sussex. The meeting podcast can be found here: https://eastsussex.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/330104
Interesting times......we will keep you informed. And as ever, please let us know your experiences of using Eastbourne DGH, The Conquest and other NHS hospital services.
Please subscribe to our mailing list
PLEASE READ "Save the DGH - what the future holds" Leaflet
Our Definition: Core services include 24 hour A & E full service, 24 hour in-patient Paediatric beds, 24 hour Consultant - led Obstetric service, 24 hour acute Medical admissions, 24 hour acute Surgical, I.T.U. & H.D.U. beds and any pathology and radiological services essential for the core services to be able to function