People in East Sussex are being asked for their views on proposals to improve the cardiology (heart) and ophthalmology (eye) services in our Trust in two public consultations launched by the NHS.

The proposals aim to improve the care available in East Sussex and cut waiting times. They will also enable staff to develop their skills and expertise so more patients in East Sussex can benefit from new medical treatments and technologies.

The two separate sets of proposals have been developed over the last year by hospital doctors, GPs and other health professionals. They looked at feedback from people who use and work in local services alongside evidence of what works well elsewhere in the NHS.

For cardiology, clinicians want to create new cardiac response teams at the emergency departments (EDs) at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital, and to concentrate the most highly specialised cardiac services at one or other of the hospital sites.

Clinicians believe that specialist heart teams based at each ED would mean emergency patients start receiving specialist care more quickly. For patients who need the most complex treatments, concentrating highly specialist care at one site would enable staff to develop greater expertise in new treatments, making them available to all East Sussex patients who need them

For ophthalmology, clinicians want to consolidate the services currently provided at Bexhill Hospital, Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital, into two sites at Bexhill Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital. This would enable patients to have quicker access to tests and treatment and more input from the most senior clinicians. It would also enable one-stop clinics, reducing the number of appointments patients need to attend.

Dr David Walker, medical director at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and a cardiology consultant, said:

“Our staff are proud of the great care that they provide to our patients. But we know that to ensure excellent outcomes, our services must continue to adapt to take advantage of medical advances and meet the changing needs of local people.”

Dr David Warden, a local GP and clinical chair of NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, added:

“In developing the proposals, we have spoken directly to people who use our services, their carers and families, as well as people who work in our services. We look forward to hearing the views of more local people now, so that we can ensure we deliver the best possible care for people in East Sussex.”

The cardiology and ophthalmology proposals are not linked, so will be consulted on separately. However, the consultations will run in parallel to make it easier and simpler for people who have an interest in both.

Both consultations will run for fourteen weeks from 6 December 2021 to 11 March 2022. Further details, copies of the consultation documents and other background documents, and ways to provide feedback on a dedicated web page.

Following the consultations, all feedback will be analysed by external consultation specialists. They will produce independent reports of the findings for the NHS and East Sussex County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee to consider before any decisions are made.

People can give their feedback on the consultation in a number of ways:

Opinion Research Services Ltd. (ORS), an independent organisation, has been appointed to manage the consultation feedback and questionnaire responses and to objectively report the outcomes.

ORS will produce a comprehensive independent report of the findings for the Integrated Care Board (that will be established from 1 April 2022), the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust Board, and the East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) to consider before any decisions are made.

Further information is available by contacting the consultation team.

Email: esxccg.cardiologyconsultation@nhs.net or esxccg.ophthalmologyconsultation@nhs.net

Write to: FREEPOST SS1018, PO Box 530, Swansea SA1 1ZL