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Complainant Name:
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Hastings & St Leonards Observer


Siba Agbeyegbe representing East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had published inaccurate information in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice. The newspaper had reported on plans to centralise hospital services and alongside this had published a coupon which it urged readers, on behalf health campaigners, to send to the Secretary of State for Health. The complainant said the coupon misrepresented the views of senior clinicians at the Conquest Hospital, Hastings.


The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification and apology:

"A petition coupon published on Friday 21st September with the headline "Join the fight by writing to minister" stated that "a significant majority of senior clinicians at the Conquest" have profound concerns about the proposed reconfiguration of clinical services at the Conquest hospital; we are happy to make clear that the Chair of the Consultants Representative Committee (the Medical Advisory Committee) and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust have stated that the statement was factually incorrect. We apologise for any misunderstanding that may have resulted from the coupon."

The newspaper also ran the following statement from the Trust:

"The Board of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is committed to ensuring that it provides safe high quality health services across East Sussex that are clinically and financially sustainable.

On November 23rd 2012 NHS Sussex agreed with our recommendation that in the future Stroke services should be sited at Eastbourne District General Hospital site and that emergency and higher risk General Surgery and emergency and higher risk Orthopaedics should be sited at the Conquest Hospital site. We believe this will strengthen the local health services environment and help to ensure that the quality of care and the outcomes for patients is improved.

East Sussex is not immune to the need to create safe sustainable services for the future within the current financial climate - clearly no change is not an option and we cannot just carry on as we are.

The local people are quite rightly passionate about their hospitals, as are we, and we firmly believe this decision will significantly improve the quality of treatment that patients receive in stroke care, emergency and higher risk planned general surgery and emergency and higher risk planned orthopaedic services.

Like everyone in East Sussex, we want Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital to remain thriving hospitals. This decision is not a threat to that ambition but a means of achieving it as we will be able to raise the standard of care in three specialist areas. Occasionally some patients will need to travel further for certain specialist services but these changes will guarantee that the right specialist teams are in place, at the right time 24/7 all year round, with dedicated facilities for recovery before going home.

It is important to remember these changes will affect less than 1% of people who use our hospitals each year. Fewer than 15 patients per day will need to travel further. The vast majority of patients will not notice any difference as planned operations and procedures, day case surgery, outpatient clinics, diagnostic tests and admissions for all medical conditions will continue as before in a patient's local hospital with A&E remaining on both sites.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust"

Date Published: 04/01/2013

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