LETTER: Don’t be fooled by honeyed words

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Your letters

The upbeat and optimistic announcement of the intended moving of some Hurstwood Park neurological services to Brighton last week hid the fact that the unit is not so much to be moved, but butchered!

The desperation of the Trust to have a neurological presence at the County site in order to tick the box necessary to obtain Level One Trauma status means that they are willing to sacrifice literally anything to that end. The much trumpeted report which it says it must follow, was a cynical ploy intended to achieve just this. Keeping the current level of Neurological services was never part of its remit. The question just wasn’t asked.

Once Hurstwood Park is split up, the service will fragment and disintegrate, having no centre to it, and that will be the end of the service for the people of the three counties it serves. The neurological presence which is needed at Brighton is fairly simple surgery from a neurosurgeon’s perspective and can easily be covered by a staff rotation from Haywards Heath. In fact that was one of the options offered in the last year. The current plan will see the end of essential and life saving vascular work, not to mention brain tumour treatment, which cannot be fitted into the county as there is no space. Also only simple back surgery will be able to be undertaken at the Orthopaedic treatment centre on the Princess Royal site as there is no access to an intensive care facility without using a blue light ambulance to take the patient to the Princess Royal (200 metres away). At the moment ITU is just down the corridor from the HWP theatres.

Don’t let the trust’s honeyed words fool anyone – once Hurstwood Park is split up only a token neurological presence will remain in Sussex and most work will have to go to London.

No one can deny the desirability of a level one trauma unit in the area, but the government should fund it properly if it is deemed to be needed, rather than letting a single Trust decide it needs to be that unit – a decision based more on an ego than strategic planning. The Brighton hospital is in the wrong place to be a level one trauma unit, being on Brighton seafront and the whole sorry mess just highlights the piecemeal approach this country has to health planning.

If we are playing a numbers game, which healthcare obviously is with its limited resources, the number of accidents victims for whom a level one trauma centre (where lots of different services are centralised) would make a critical difference to their survival is tiny compared to the number of people who need their brain tumours treated or cerebral aneurysms and other vascular abnormalities repaired. Or indeed vital back surgery undertaken. Hurstwood Park needs updating and expanding, not closing.If anyone knows staff at Hurstwood Park, ask them about it and write to the Middy with the information they give you. The staff are too scared to speak up, for fear of their jobs, but it is the people of the south east corner of the UK, who will lose this vital service and who must fight this disastrous plan. Are there any retired doctors who could give a balanced view? Perhaps a local GP would like to say where he/she will send suspected brain tumour patients once HWP is gone.

We must fight this for all our sakes.

Brian Palmer

Burgess Hill