Changes to paediatric services at Eastbourne hospital

Following the news about some changes being made to the Short Stay Paediatric Assessment Unit (‘paediatric services’) at Eastbourne District General Hospital, ESPCF spoke to a number of families who are concerned about what these changes may mean for them.

Two ESPCF representatives met with directors from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust who run the services to share these concerns. Whilst we did not agree on all points, including that families wanted to see a formal consultation about the changes, we are grateful for their time to talk things through with us, and that the doors of communication are now open.

ESPCF was told that public consultation was not needed because the intention is not for a major, significant service change. The directors said that services are still being delivered in Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH) but in a different way, and that the majority of people shouldn’t notice a difference. They emphasised that paediatric consultants continue to be on call for Eastbourne DGH 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We also heard more about the Advanced Paediatric Nurse Practitioner role which is now more integral to the service, and the high level of expertise, training, and experience these professionals have, to help reassure families about the level of care that children will continue to receive.

We touched on the importance of clear, timely communication, and the need for clarity about exactly what is available where, and when. This is important for ensuring that families can make informed decisions at any time depending on what they need and avoid unnecessary journeys to other hospitals. Clear and direct communication is also important to avoid different interpretations, for example stating when consultants are on-site or when they would be on call, rather than just saying they would be “available”.

It was really valuable for the directors to hear directly from a parent who has accessed the service frequently over the years, and for the directors to have a greater understanding of what the changes will actually mean for the families using the service. For example, where families might need to access A&E services, what does this actually look like and feel like for a child with special educational needs and disabilities? Will factors such as medical vulnerability and sensory needs be taken into account?

We are aware there is a petition calling for changes to be halted and for a public consultation process, which you may be interested in. Click here to find out more.
You may also be interested to read the statement from Eastbourne and Willingdon MP, Caroline Ansell. Click here to read the statement.

ESPCF would really like to hear from families who have experienced using the short stay paediatric assessment unit, and also from those who have had to go to A&E with your child. What was your experience? Did anything particularly help or would have helped during your time there?

Contact us by email, call 0300 770 1367, or click here to complete a quick feedback form.