CONTROVERSIAL planned changes to paediatric care at the DGH continue to cause great anxiety locally.

Here’s our MP Caroline Ansell: “Concern over paediatric care at the DGH dominated my work before Christmas and so this week, I met with the Secretary of State for Health, Victoria Atkins.  She will have new powers of ‘call in’ at the end of this month and I will formally write to her to ask her to use those powers to review the hospitals plans. We must have confidence in local services.

Meantime, I will continue to work with parents, the hospital and local NHS leaders.  They stress services are not changing or being relocated, and that it’s about space and staffing.  I completely understand that any change to how care is provided for our children is going to be super sensitive.  I am that mum. My own child has complex medical needs. 

I need to continue to hear parents’ voices as I prepare the ground for my submission and I am working closely with Maria Caulfield the minister for paediatrics.

So in the next few weeks, please send me your thoughts and comments. I want to magnify your personal testimony of what the changes might mean for you – as your MP I can do exactly that. 

The trust had said its proposals were essentially an internal organisational service change. They did not represent an activity shift from the DGH to Conquest. 

This was a position the Sussex NHS Commissioners agreed with. 

The Health Overview Scrutiny Committee that also quizzed the hospital over the plans, challenged the timescale and deliverability of them but did not consider they met the threshold for referral at that point either. They have also committed to undertake a review. I will be following this very closely. 

All this means that the referral to the Health Secretary could fall below the qualifying threshold for a ‘substantial variation’.  

However, if that proves to be the case, it can only help to allay concerns. My action in calling it in is simply a belt and braces approach and the right approach too. We need to shine a light on what these plans mean for children and their parents.

Reassurances have been made but there remains some deep anxiety that changes will result in a reduction in care.

There will now also be improvements within the emergency department to ensure children are seen sooner, with earlier paediatric input and reduced waiting times, the trust has confirmed. 

But I will continue to ask challenging questions, it’s my job. The NHS has always been a top campaign priority for me. It’s why I fought so hard for our place in the new hospital programme.”