16 December 2022

Improvements to East Sussex cardiology and ophthalmology services get the green light

The East Sussex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) has endorsed proposals to improve cardiology and ophthalmology services for the people of East Sussex.

The proposals, which aim to improve the quality of care for all those who need it, cut waiting times, reduce how long people have to stay in hospital, and the number of times they need to visit for appointments or tests, were developed by hospital doctors, GPs and other health professionals.

The proposals had previously been unanimously agreed by the NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board (ICB) at its meeting in public on Wednesday 2 November. The endorsement from East Sussex HOSC came at its meeting yesterday, Thursday 15 December.

Work will now begin to implement the proposed improvements to cardiology and ophthalmology services, which will provide the very best outcomes for local people.

For ophthalmology, care will be improved by consolidating the services currently provided at Eastbourne District General Hospital, Bexhill Hospital and Conquest Hospital into two sites at Eastbourne District General Hospital and Bexhill Hospital. This will enable patients to have quicker access to tests and treatment and more input from the most senior clinicians. It will also enable one-stop clinics, reducing the number of appointments patients need to attend.

For cardiology, care at both the Conquest Hospital, Hastings and Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH) will be enhanced by creating new cardiac response teams to attend at the front end of the hospitals. This will ensure that people are assessed quicker, when they first come into the emergency departments (EDs) of the hospitals, meaning that emergency patients start receiving specialist care more quickly.

The interventional specialist cardiac services will be sited at Eastbourne DGH. Concentrating the most highly specialised interventional and specialist inpatient cardiology services on one site meets national best practice and will mean the highest standard of care for patients. This will allow our staff to develop greater expertise in new treatments and ensure people are being offered the very best care when they need it. This is only changing for 3% of all cardiac patients seen in East Sussex each year.

The vast majority (97%) of cardiology services will stay the same at both the Conquest, Hastings and Eastbourne DGH. To make sure that the majority of patients receive good quality care close to home outpatients, non-invasive diagnostics, cardiac-monitored beds, cardiac rehabilitation and heart failure services would stay at both hospitals and in the community (where these services are already provided).

These plans are the culmination of a comprehensive programme of work that has considered the best clinical evidence, recommendations from clinical experts and a review and evaluation of feedback from two separate public consultations in which hundreds of people, including service users, carers and their families, as well as a wide range of organisations, took part.

Kashif Qureshi, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I am delighted that this decision enables us to modernise our service, so that we can provide the best quality care for our patients in Sussex. I would like to thank the team who have been involved in the engagement of the local community and development of this plan and the clinicians involved who provided their input also.”

Professor Nik Patel, Senior Cardiologist and Cardiovascular lead at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We will now be able to provide timely cardiac expertise to all our East Sussex patients. We will see the benefits of a faster and more responsive cardiac service with new state of the art facilities.”

Dinesh Sinha, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Sussex, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has got us to this point, in particular our dedicated clinical teams and our engaged local communities, who use our services and helped us shape our plans. The improvements we can now start to make mean that patients will see many benefits in terms of the quality of care they receive and their experience when using services.”

Progress updates and further news on the improvements will continue next year so keep an eye on our social media channels, local newsletters, websites and more.

You can read the HOSC papers and find out more about the improvements, as well as all the background reports and documents, on the cardiology and ophthalmology  home pages.