A very nappy birthday

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Maybe this is not one of those landmark birthdays to celebrate – but for all the times I moan about the NHS, I am so very glad that on July 5 it had been going for 66 years.

Once, when I was particularly fed up with our health service, I was lucky to see it from the eyes of outsiders: friends from Puglia, in southern Italy, whose small son fell and gashed his head in Rye. I drove them to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, where he was calmly checked, stitched (leaving no scar they subsequently and delightedly told me) and dealt with quickly and efficiently. The family was genuinely impressed – by those things which I had overlooked or taken for granted in the past. So: Happy Birthday and thank you, NHS.

We can also celebrate the decision of the three East Sussex clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), who, after a thorough 10-week consultation period, voted to keep the consultant-led maternity services at the Conquest. Much credit must be given to the excellent work of our local nurses and doctors, who maintain such a high standard.

Birthing services will be retained at both Eastbourne and Hastings, as well as short-stay paediatric assessment units. But in-patient (overnight) paediatrics, the special care baby unit, and emergency gynaecology will be based at the Conquest.

Dr Andy Slater, medical director (strategy) for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said that it is far safer and clinically sustainable to provide services from one consultant-led obstetric unit. Dr Roger Elias, chairman of the Hastings and Rother CCG, said: “As local clinicians we agree this is the best possible solution to achieving safe and thus high-quality services for local women and children in East Sussex in the long term.” He added that he fully understood concerns expressed about travelling farther to access certain services, but a difficult decision had to be made and the evidence was clear and compelling.

The decision was welcomed by both the local MP, Amber Rudd, who had lobbied hard to make sure this option became a reality and by Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, who had also campaigned to retain the consultant-led maternity services at the Conquest.

Gill Clamp is a committee member of Rye Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group