The profoundly disappointing news from County Hall this week at the closure of our outstanding rehab care home, Firwood House, in Hampden Park, has caused shockwaves across the town. I am pleased East Sussex County Council at least listened to my pleas and those of the 10,000 residents who signed a petition opposing the original proposal to close ‘both’ Milton Grange and Firwood House, and that Milton Grange was spared but their decision to shut Firwood House is awful. Apparently all it’s rehabilitation services are to be squeezed into Milton Grange, which is also a nonsense. There is simply not enough space available. It’s an absolutely shocking decision to close such a first-class care home with an enviable reputation for ensuring patients maintain their lives independently in their own homes, as well as aiding their recovery, post-admittance to the DGH. This also reduced the bed-blocking we had so much of a few years ago.
I have asked the three Eastbourne Conservative County Councillors; Cllrs David Elkin, Colin Belsey and Barry Taylor to consider their position as a consequence of their utterly deplorable decision. It is clear to me and to many others that by either voting in favour as Cabinet Members or not opposing it publicly, they’ve put Party allegiance ahead of the needs of our town. I am not impressed.
I was also contacted earlier in the week by a constituent who told my office - word for word - that our campaign had received support from the Duke of Devonshire himself. His appreciation and links to Eastbourne go back over 100 years. They told me he’d written ‘I have every sympathy with your great concern about the possible closure of Milton Grange and Firwood House. I know how valuable they are to Eastbourne and how well used and much loved they are. I am delighted to see that Stephen Lloyd MP is actively campaigning for the saving of the two care homes. I only hope that East Sussex County Council will be able to find the money to allow the homes to continue their great work.’
I was grateful for this intervention and have written back to the Duke informing him of the woeful decision by ESCC.
I’ll also be writing to the Chief Executive of the CQC (Care Quality Commission) and the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, urging they commission an independent audit into the County Council’s proposal, so that we can at least be sure the safety of patients will not be compromised by this shortsighted cost-saving measure. A sad day for Eastbourne.