He again denied the problems were down to the Trust’s finances, which have been shown to be less than perfect in recent years, saying, “We have found that despite having the funding we are not attracting the specialist doctors and nurses in every area and that has been incredibly disappointing. There are other hospital trusts out there with a similar vision and they (consultants) are choosing to work there.”
He added there needed to be what he called a critical mass of patients to make the Trust more attractive and provide doctors and nurses with enough work to maintain their specialist skills.
Stroke care, he said, was a perfect example. “Across the Trust we have around 750 stroke patients a year but that does not give the specialists that critical mass.
“In London there were around 30 stroke units and these were reduced to eight, which provided high acute stroke care and over the last 18 months around 400 lives have been saved directly as a result of this configuration.
“The average length of stay has fallen and quality of life indicators have shown a clear and dramatic improvement in care.”
He hopes for a similar turnaround once the service has been centralised in East Sussex.
“This is all about being able to attract, recruit and retain specialist doctors and nurses,” he added, “In a year’s time there will be specialist stroke nurses seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The Herald attempted to press Dr Slater on the future of maternity, with Save the DGH campaigners warning that once one service heads to Hastings, others will fall like a deck of cards.
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