Dear Hamish Pollock
You may have seen the BBC website report on 15th November about threatened cuts to health services across the UK, including the possible closure of St Helier Hospital in Carshalton and Wallington.
Full details of 44 reviews of services around the country – part of the government’s sustainability and transformation plans – which involve closing some A&Es or, in South West London, a whole hospital or, in the worst case scenario, two, had not been made public until some local Councils, including Lib Dem run Sutton Council, rebelled and released NHS plans recently. They can be read here http://www.swlccgs.nhs.uk/our-plan/.
A report by The King’s Fund suggests that NHS England had told local managers to keep the plans “out of the public domain” and avoid requests for information, whilst managers were even taught how to reject freedom of information requests.
Changes are being explored which may see the closure of one or more hospitals in South West London, including StHelier in Carshalton. Nothing has been decided. What we currently know for certain is that last year Epsom and StHelier NHS Trust launched their five year strategy which gave a commitment that both Epsom Hospital and St HelierHospital will continue to provide consultant led, 24/7 A&E, maternity and inpatient paediatric services for five years.
It is clear that there has to be major investment in Epsom and St Helier hospitals. There are issues with the buildings and facilities within Epsom and St Helier Trust which need to be addressed. It is not appropriate that patients are being treated in buildings that are unable to offer infection free care, where there are so few side rooms, where privacy and dignity for patients is poor, where the hospital is spending so much to keep patients safe instead of on medical equipment.
The hospital Trust has a great staff team and it isn’t fair that they are required to provide care in unsuitable buildings. Simon Stephens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has written about wanting an infrastructure fund for the NHS as part of the Brexit NHS settlement to replace ‘clapped out hospitals and GP surgeries’. I think St Helier meets that criteria and I will fight to ensure that St Helier Hospital receives some of the £350 million a week which is apparently going to be available to the NHS when the UK leaves the EU. I wrote to Jeremy Hunt urging him to ensure that this happens, perhaps unsurprisingly, he refused to commit to extra funding. So did the Prime Minister when I raised the matter directly with her, in Prime Minister’s Questions recently.
In the meantime, I am reassured from my contact with the CEO at the Trust that the Trust is working hard to ensure that they continue to provide an acute hospital for the 500,000 people who live in the Sutton and Epsom areas. As ever, I will support the Trust in their bid to do so. Any attempts to remove our A&E, maternity and inpatient services from the borough will be met by the stiffest possible community resistance.
Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington
0208 255 8155
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