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October 20 2014.

Norman Baker has welcomed the news that the head of the NHS supports Norman’s view that health care services should be more concentrated in local and smaller hospitals.

Norman recently wrote to Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, expressing his opposition to the current trend of specialisation and the centralisation of essential hospital services, in particular the situation people in Seaford and Polegate are affected by, which is the relocation and shuffling of services by East Sussex Health Care Trust between Eastbourne DGH and Hastings Conquest Hospital.

Norman is particularly concerned that the moving of services has meant such a large increase into people’s journey times, either as patients having to be driven past EDGH to get to Hastings, as well as for relatives seeking to try and support loved ones at what can be a difficult time.

Despite vehement opposition, the trust pushed plans through to reconfigure services, resulting in EDGH losing emergency and high-risk elective surgery and orthopaedics, followed by the removal of maternity services.

In a handwritten note to Mr Baker, Simon Stevens said: “I do think we need a concerted program across the NHS to find new ways to support small hospitals and we are working with a number of patient and hospital groups to discuss these new models.”

Norman says: “I am very concerned that the East Sussex Health Care Trust seems intent on creating a two-tier health system locally, which will see my constituents having to travel further for emergency surgery at a time when they are most vulnerable.

“This is why I support local hospitals to be able to provide services to local people, which are more easily accessible and provide better support for patients, as well as their family friends, who will often become an individual’s support when they come out of hospital. I am pleased to hear that the head of NHS England agrees with me. 

"The management of the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust should think again about its centralisation plans, which are bad for my constituents and out of line, it seems, with the head of the NHS."