Merton CCG AGM: KOSHH's concerns
We attended the Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Annual General Meeting last Thursday night and our concerns for the future of St Helier Hospital remain as strong as ever. The AGM organisers called for questions in advance. Despite this, the only questions submitted were from KOSHH.
Our first question was whether all members of Merton CCG have read the Epsom-St Helier Trust Estates Review document. As this is a possible blueprint for the future of both Epsom and St Helier hospital sites, we expect everyone involved with all relevant CCGs to have read it. This is not an unreasonable expectation.
Adam Doyle, the Chief Officer, confirmed that all members of the governing body have read the Estates Review but not all members of the CCG. This is disturbing to say the least. Why wouldn't all CCG members be compelled to familiarise themselves with a document that will have far-reaching implications on local health services?
We asked if anyone from Merton CCG could share their thoughts on the review but nobody on the panel was prepared to offer any comment.
We then asked if the CCG members see the Estates Review as a threat to the future of St Helier Hospital. Despite this being a yes-or-no question, no yes-or-no answer was forthcoming.
Most critically of all, we asked if Merton CCG is committed to the preservation of all services at St Helier Hospital. Again, this is a yes-or-no question but we started to get an answer that talked of challenges, issues and the need for repairs at St Helier Hospital but no definite response.
We asked for a yes-or-no answer and were told that the CCG could not commit to preserving the services at any hospital.
Our final question was to ask if Merton CCG was going to prepare a response to the Estates Review and whether it would be made public. Given that 30 September is the closing date for responses, this is also a pressing matter. Adam Doyle confirmed that Merton CCG would respond to the Estates Review and that their response will be made public in November.
It is hardly surprising that members of KOSHH did not leave the meeting feeling relaxed and comfortable about the future of vital services at St Helier Hospital. Given that the meeting repeatedly made the point that the area has a high birth rate and a growing population, it is shocking that Merton CCG is not prepared to make a strong and public commitment to preserving vital services at any of the local hospitals, including A&E and maternity.
KOSHH campaigners will be meeting with Merton CCG on 13 October and we will share the outcome of that meeting in the interests of full transparency and keeping the public informed on the threats to our local health services. We have been accused of scaremongering in the past but we maintain our position that the threat to St Helier Hospital's vital services remains and it has only been through the tireless campaigning of dedicated members of the community over many years that we still have this essential facility.
Merton CCG is not the only CCG responsible for making decisions that will affect the future of our local hospitals. KOSHH campaigners will also be holding the other CCGs that make up South West London Collaborative Commissioning to account.