Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) Campaign
On the submission by Merton, Sutton & Surrey Downs CCGs of a
Pre-Consultation Business Case to NHS England & NHS Improvement
"A plan to downgrade our hospitals"
Merton, Sutton & Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Groups have jointly set up an organisation called “Improving Healthcare Together 2020-2030” (IHT) whose role appears to be to push through radical changes to acute hospital provision in our part of South West London and Surrey. To this end, they have carried out a minimal “engagement” on their plans, and have now submitted a “Pre-Consultation Business Case” (PCBC) to NHS England and to NHS Improvement.
In the wake of this, IHT have published a “Stakeholder Technical Briefing” on the topic, and this was made public on the 30th of July 2019.
Prior to this submission however, on the 26th of June 2019, they also sent a draft of their PCBC to the South East Clinical Senate and to the London Clinical Senate for their comments. The clinical senates’ report on this document can be viewed here, but for some reason they have refused to make the document to which the report refers public.
In essence, the IHT plan can be summarised as follows:
- The removal of all Acute services from one or both of Epsom Hospital, St Helier Hospital, or BOTH Epsom and St Helier Hospital, potentially as soon as 2020. This would mean the loss of the following services:
- Accident & Emergency
- Intensive Care
- Cancer Care
- Coronary Care
- Emergency Surgery & Emergency Medicine, including Intensive Care
- The plan proposes that a new “Acute Facility” could be built at some point from 2026 onwards, at one of three possible locations. These are:
- Adjacent to Epsom Hospital
- Adjacent to St Helier Hospital
- Adjacent to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton
- Funding for the building of the proposed “New Acute Facility” has not yet been identified, but it is very likely that this would involve the use of some form of Private Finance deal, whereby the taxpayer effectively takes out a loan which is paid back over many decades. Plans such as this have been described as the biggest drain on NHS funding and as being usurious in nature.
- The IHT “Issues Paper” (which can be viewed here) gave some fascinating details, including for example a table on page 15 which explains that under their proposals, they would reduce the number of Consultant doctors, with a loss of 10-14 of the current 26 Consultant Obstetricians employed by the Trust, and of 10-14 of the current 26 Consultant Paediatricians employed by the Trust.
- Since emergency services would be located in one location, instead of the existing two, this would mean longer journeys for most people in the catchment, at precisely the time when people need to reach care, or give birth, urgently.
- KOSHH fear that if these proposals are allowed to proceed, people will suffer, and lives WILL be lost as a result.
It is notable that this proposal is very much in line with the South West London Sustainability & Transformation Plan which can be viewed here. This document called for the reduction in the number of Acute Hospitals in South West London, from the current 5 (Epsom Hospital, St Helier Hospital, St George’s Hospital, Kingston Hospital, Croydon Hospital), down to 4 or even down to 3, and made it quite clear that the axe would fall on St Helier, and probably Epsom hospitals.
Similarly, this proposal is very much in line with the "engagement" which was carried out by the Epsom & St Helier Trust in 2017. The booklet for which can be viewed here. The Epsom & St Helier Trust laid out a little more detail about their plans, which included an estimate of the number of acute hospital beds which would be available under each option. At best this would be reduced from 759 Acute beds which Epsom and St Helier had in 2014 (Freedom of Information Request 2590), down to <500 (if the Acute facility were located adjacent to the Royal Marsden), or perhaps as few as 300 (if the Acute facility were located adjacent to Epsom Hospital).
In essence, KOSHH feel that the people of South West London and Surrey cannot afford to lose ANY of our existing Acute hospitals. We don’t remember any reports which say that we have “too many hostpital beds”, or that A&E waiting times were “too short”, or that people lived “too close to emergency services”, or indeed that our hospitals had “too many consultant doctors”.
The population in this area has never been higher, and is due to increase by an estimated 25% over the next 15 years. The people of South West London and Surrey deserve to have access to our existing Acute NHS hospitals which have served us so well over the last 71 years. We must not be drawn into a “divide and rule” battle. Of course the people of Epsom will say that, if there is to be only one Acute site, it should be located in Epsom, and of course the people of Merton and Sutton will argue that, it should be located in Sutton – we say, that we need MORE acute hospitals – not fewer.
This really isn’t a battle about where a single Acute Facility should be located.
We therefore call on all of our elected representatives, of all political shades, to fight this proposal, to oppose the principle that we can get by with a single “acute facility” instead of the two full acute hospitals we currently enjoy, and to demand the retention and proper maintenance of BOTH of our existing Acute Hospitals, as if their and our lives depend upon it – because they do!
Notes for editors:
- The Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) Campaign, is a non-profit organisation with no political affiliations, formed of volunteers, dedicated to defending services in both the local area and the wider NHS.
- KOSHH are (thus far) the ONLY organisation which is campaigning to retain ALL acute services at BOTH Epsom hospital, and St Helier Hospital.
- Much more information can be found on the KOSHH website (https://koshh.org), the KOSHH facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/koshh.org) and on our YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/KoshhCampaignUK), and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.