A subject close to our hearts

With all the uncertainty surrounding the closure of the hospitals, what is actually going on?...

The issue:Rumours about the downgrading of our county's hospitals have been circulating for months now, but the final decision to be made by the Primary Care Trusts seems to be dragging on with no definite date for its conclusion.

The government have asked The Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority (Now NHS South East Coast) to deliver savings of around £100 million from their annual NHS budget. The Primary Care Trusts in East and West Sussex have announced a number of options (four option for East and three options for West) which are currently being considered and which affect the future of our health services.

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Although they deny that the cuts are to save money, all of these options mean losing one or more of the services currently provided in at least one of our major hospitals in both East and West Sussex. Campaign groups have been working tirelessly in East and West Sussex to lobby government and oppose these views, and a further option for each county has been put forward by them as a way to try and prevent some of the more drastic cuts taking place, although some argue that these additional options have not been taken seriously by the Health Authorities.

What's being considered?

West Sussex Worthing and Southlands St Richard's in Chichester Princess Royal in Haywards Heath

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The future of A&E provision at all of these hospitals is under threat. Plans to downgrade two out of the three were announced in June by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Crawley HospitalThe A&E department was downgraded in August 2004 with the services moving to East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, approximately 10 miles away. Ambulance officials blamed the closure of Crawley's A&E for a backlog at Redhill's casualty department in September 2004. In March this year, a new urgent treatment centre was set up at Crawley Hospital, which hopes to be able to deal with the majority of people who would previously have been treated at the old A&E department.

East SussexEastbourne DGH Hastings Conquest

One of these is likely to lose its maternity units. It is thought that A&E will also be under threat in one of the two hospitals.

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