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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 11:44 GMT
Anger at NHS consultation 'farce'
Eastbourne District General Hospital
Eastbourne District General Hospital could lose maternity services
Protesters fighting NHS changes in East Sussex say a public consultation due to take place is "a farce and a sham" as decisions would already have been made.

There are plans to centralise maternity services at Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest Hospital, in Hastings, onto one of the two sites.

But Eastbourne MP Nigel Waterson said the change was now set to be confirmed before next year's consultation.

The local NHS trust said it had to have the plans ready by the end of January.

Dr David Scott, medical director at East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We've been saying we want to move onto one site for the last nine months.

"That decision hasn't been confirmed by the trust board yet, but the weight of evidence is compelling.

Protesters outside Parliament
The maternity changes have galvanised strong local campaigns

"We have been given a very strong steer that we should put obstetrics and neo-natal services on one site."

But Mr Waterson has hit out at what he called a "potential fraud on the public".

"By the time the consultation ends in April, key decisions will already have been made," he said.

"If this decision is not reversed immediately, I shall be demanding the resignation of those responsible."

Dr Scott said a single site for maternity services had to be in place by 1 August next year - because of "changes in the way doctors are being trained" - and that meant confirming the plans in January.

"Which site we put it on is not decided, and obviously that is what the public consultation will be about," he added.

But that will anger campaigners from Eastbourne and Hastings, who have held protest marches and taken petitions to Prime Minister Tony Blair in an attempt to prevent the maternity changes happening at all.


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SEE ALSO
Mass meeting to fight NHS changes
13 Nov 06 |  Southern Counties
Major NHS shake-up plan delayed
10 Nov 06 |  Southern Counties
Commons plea over maternity fears
31 Oct 06 |  Southern Counties
NHS protest taken to Westminster
18 Oct 06 |  Southern Counties
Blair meets hospital campaigners
11 Oct 06 |  Southern Counties
Ex-Beatle backs NHS campaigners
26 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties
Thousands march to save services
20 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties
March over hospital shake-up plan
16 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties
Maternity fears lead to campaign
06 Mar 06 |  Southern Counties

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