East Sussex NHS concerns after boy's ambulance wait

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Media captionChanges to hospital services are criticised after a boy had to wait for eight hours for an ambulance transfer after surgery.

Changes to hospital services in East Sussex have been criticised after a nine-year-old boy waited eight hours for a hospital transfer after surgery.

Douglas Potter had to be transferred to Conquest Hospital in Hastings because Eastbourne's children's ward is closed overnight, under a temporary downgrade of maternity and paediatric care.

The NHS said the downgrade was for safety and followed staff shortages.

But Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said he was "tremendously worried".

Specialist care is being provided in Hastings, but the MP said one woman had given birth in a car while being driven from Hastings to Eastbourne.

'Noisy and scary'

He said: "To us and the town it just seems to be remorseless salami slicing of services for our children."

He said he would be meeting Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, but he added: "How much further does it have to go?"

NHS England said the current configuration of maternity and paediatric services at East Sussex Healthcare NHS was temporary and to ensure patient safety.

A spokesman said no decisions had been made about future services and consultation by the clinical commissioning group was under way.

Douglas's mother, Carole Potter, said: "We were waiting for eight hours before we were transferred to Hastings, in what is a recovery area, which is noisy, quite scary for my son."

Image caption Under the changes, Hastings will provide specialist care and Eastbourne services will be downgraded

A statement from the hospital trust said: "Douglas's parents are right in being angry that there was such a delay in transferring him for his recovery period and we apologise for that."

It said the ambulance service had considered the transfer to be "low-priority", but talks were under way to prevent such a delay from happening again.

South East Coast Ambulance Service apologised and added: "Although a number of ambulances were assigned to attend to Douglas, each time they had to be stood down to respond to higher priority life-threatening and serious calls."

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