Final call to sign our campaign to protect A&E

Our joint A&E SOS campaign received more than 23,000 signatures
Our joint A&E SOS campaign received more than 23,000 signatures

THERE is just one week left to sign our A&E SOS campaign.

Together with our sister papers the Herald and Gazette Series, the Observer has been running a high-profile campaign seeking a cast-iron assurance that accident and emergency will be protected.

It was launched back in September after the hospital trust spoke out about fears for the viability of both A&E units in the wake of a £235m musculoskeletal contract going to Bupa CSH Ltd.

Nearly five months later, those fears are yet to be alleviated.

Well over 20,000 people from across the county have signed our A&E SOS campaign, and on Friday, January 30, representatives from our newspapers will deliver those petitions to the Department of Health’s office in London.

And there is still time to add your name to the signatures by filling in the form below and returning it to us before next Thursday, or by going online and adding to our online petition.

On Wednesday, governors at Western Sussex Hospital NHS Foundation Trust were due to meet to discuss the findings of an independent impact assessment report.

The report was commissioned to look into the effects the changeover of MSK services would have on hospital services, and a summary showed it could put the trust into debt over the next five years.

Ahead of the meeting Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of Western, said: “The joint impact assessment demonstrates an MSK service run by Bupa CSH would have serious clinical and financial implications that, if not mitigated, would seriously affect the care we are able to provide for patients in our hospitals.

“We are now looking at the cost, viability and practicality of the mitigations needed to guarantee that no patients are adversely affected by the new contract proposals.”

West Sussex County Council’s health and adult social care select committee (HASC) was also scheduled to meet on Wednesday, but dropped planned discussions over MSK from its agenda.

Instead the scrutiny committee will discuss the unprecedented current demands on health services, especially A&E.

The Observer asked Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, the decision-makers which handed Bupa the contract, if there would be a further delay to the start of the new services for MSK, currently set for April 1.

In response, we received a statement from Dr Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer, insisting a ‘contract will not be signed if local health services will be destabilised’ and an assurance that the hospital trust will ‘remain sustainable’ and both A&Es will remain open.

Dr Armstrong added: “All organisations are very aware of the timescales, but what is most important is that we do this right, so that we can all see the benefit to local services and to patients in Coastal West Sussex.”