Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Margaret Burns (formerly Williams) asks for your support for Hands Off The Conquest’s latest campaign

Margaret Burns (formerly Williams) asks for your support for Hands Off The Conquest’s latest campaign.

Margaret says, “Hands Off the Conquest Cath Lab”

Hastings Online Times sent off Erica Smith to meet Margaret Burns (formerly Williams) and find out about Hands Off the Conquest and their new campaign to keep the very successful cath lab at the Conquest Hospital.

Margaret Burns answers the door to me with a smile and settles me down with a cup of coffee before telling me about the Friends of the Conquest fundraising group and the separate Hands off the Conquest campaigning group. She was also keen to explain to me that most people who know her as an advocate for the Conquest Hospital will think of her as Margaret Williams. Three years ago she remarried and is now officially Mrs Burns – but apart from the name change, she is still the same compassionate, caring and active citizen.

Margaret has been involved with Friends of the Conquest for 30 years. The Friends raise funds from gifts, donations, legacies, events and the profits made in its two shops and mobile ward services. These services are staffed by up to 40 volunteers, which keeps the operating costs very low and allows the Friends to financially support projects throughout the hospital which departmental budgets are struggling to cover. She is currently the Friends’ vice-chair.

Screen Shot 2020-02-22 at 14.43.02Hands Off the Conquest is a pressure group which was formed 15 years ago to campaign to keep the Maternity Unit in Hastings when there was a proposal to move all the services to Eastbourne. The successful campaign ran for three years, 36,000 local people signed a petition and 5,000 residents joined a seafront march to show how strongly they wanted to keep the maternity service here.

The threat to the Cardiology Cath Lab throws up similar concerns to that of losing the Maternity Unit: whilst it may seem logical for financial reasons to merge services between Hastings and Eastbourne, the reality is that the road connection between the two towns is poor – the link road has increased congestion on The Ridge – and we mustn’t forget that the Conquest doesn’t just serve Hastings, but Rye and surrounding villages as far east as Camber.

What is a cath lab?

A cardiac cath lab is where doctors perform tests and procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease. The procedures nearly always use tiny, flexible tubes (catheters) and stents, which can be used instead of surgery. Cath labs have special imaging equipment used to see the arteries and check how well blood is flowing to and from the heart. This information helps the care team to diagnose and treat blockages and other problems in the arteries.

Currently there are two cath labs in Eastbourne and one in Hastings – but Hastings currently performs 4 procedures to every 3 procedures conducted at the Eastbourne cath labs.

Two weeks ago, an NHS review board called “Get It Right First Time” looked into local cath lab provision and advised that a cath lab should be performing 500 procedures a month. When Margaret heard this news, she immediately became concerned that it might lead to the merger of the service and Hastings could be in danger of losing its cath lab.

Margaret’s reasons for keeping
the Cath Lab at the Conquest

  • Hastings is an area of high deprivation, which leads to a high level of cardiac problems – currently the Conquest performs the most procedures in the region.
  • Geographically, there is nowhere else for people in the area to travel to with ease.
  • The Conquest Hospital has a brand new MRI scanner which can scan hearts.
  • The Conquest Hospital also hosts the Trauma Unit for the region.

Concerned? – how YOU can help Margaret
keep the Cath Lab at the Conquest…

If you want to keep the Cath Lab in Hastings, the first thing you can do is sign the Hands Off the Conquest online petition.

If you want to get actively involved with the campaign, please email Margaret and let her know how you can help. For example, would you be happy to help run a stall in the town centre on Saturdays to tell people about the threat to the cath lab and to gather signatures for the petition from people who don’t have access to computers? If you are willing and able to volunteer some of your time, Margaret would love to hear from you.


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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 16:10 Saturday, Feb 22, 2020 In: Campaigns

Also in: Campaigns

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