Hospital campaigners in Eastbourne are seeking answers over the proposed merger of cardiology services in East Sussex, and are urging the public to do the same.

Members of the Save The DGH Campaign group met with officers and clinicians from East Sussex NHS to voice their concerns at plans to “single-site” cardiology services at either the Eastbourne DGH or the Conquest in Hastings.

The campaign group’s aim is to keep all key core services at the town’s hospital, as well as continuing the fight to return to the full obstetric and maternity services which were lost to Hastings.

The campaign group believes that the DGH is the favoured site for the new, improved cardiology department, although the healthcare trust is in the middle of a consultation exercise around this proposal, and another for ophthalmology.

The cardiology proposal is said to likely affect around three per cent of patients who will require inpatient “interventions”, which will be located on one site. It promises a number of advantages including faster access to diagnosis and treatments, higher levels of skilled care from specialists working in multidisciplinary teams and access to the latest technology.

Though an estimated 93 per cent of cardiology patients are said to be outpatients, the campaign

group is worried about those needing specialised cardiology care, especially with fears over travel times between Eastbourne and Hastings.

There is a treatment link between stroke care, interventional cardiology and diabetes, so the campaign group’s view is that these should be at the same site. With stroke services already single-sited at Eastbourne DGH, interventional cardiology – if single-sited – should also have its home there, argues the group.

Heart and circulatory diseases account for a quarter of all deaths in the UK and the British Heart Foundation estimates that more than a half of all people will suffer a heart or circulatory condition in their lifetime.

Campaigners told health officials of their concerns at a meeting with the local NHS which included Jo Chadwick-Bell, CEO of the East Sussex Healthcare Trust, and Professor Nikhil Patel, senior cardiologist and president of the Royal Society of Medicine (cardiac section).

Though the group was told that no decision was “set in stone”, campaigners did hear that Eastbourne had already been treating some 450 patients a year with advanced technologies, which have already been single-sited at the DGH and this cardiology unit has the larger number of cardiology beds, currently with with currently with two as against the one at Hastings.

The Save The DGH group is worried that the erosion of hospital services will put patients at risk and diminish services at both the DGH and the Conquest, at a time when populations are growing quickly in both areas.

Group chair Liz Walke said it shouldn’t be forgotten that Eastbourne was amongst the towns and cities promised a “new hospital” in major health initiatives promised by Boris Johnston and the Conservative government.

“A hospital fit for this century has to be a hospital which offers excellence in all the major specialisms,” she said. “That’s what Eastbourne deserves and that’s the start and finish points for our campaign. The public’s voice has to be heard, so make your views known.”

The consultation ends on March 11 and people are urged to take part. A copy of the consultation paper can be obtained by calling 0300 131 4691 or completed online at www.opinionresearch.co.uk/Cardiology