The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, has vowed to continue to “fight” for St Helier Hospital to retain all its services.
Cllr Alambritis has voiced his concern for the future of the hospital following the submission of the Improving Healthcare Together 2020-2030 draft pre-consultation Business Case to NHS England for Assurance. The document, which has not been published by the NHS, ranks three options for the future of the Trust, with downgrading both St Helier and Epsom Hospitals and building a new hospital in Sutton coming out on top.
Cllr Alambritis said: “We have a long-standing commitment to ensure that residents of Merton have access to a full range of NHS acute services on the St Helier Hospital site, including a blue light A&E and consultant-led maternity service.
“We could not be clearer in our opposition to any closure or downgrade of services at St Helier Hospital. I’m extremely disappointed that the Trust and the CCG appear to prefer an option that would remove essential services at St Helier. This is despite the overwhelming evidence of local need, and the clear opposing voice of Merton’s residents through the various engagement processes undertaken to date.”
The Leader expressed concern about the impact on communities around the existing St Helier Hospital site. He said: “Attempts to relocate acute services away from St Helier in favour of a more affluent area, such as Belmont or the Royal Marsden site, would be incompatible with the statutory duty on the Clinical Commissioning Group, which is about tackling health inequalities. Accessing acute health services will be significantly more difficult for our residents who suffer the greatest level of inequality. In addition, the potential increase in demand for other providers, particularly for St George’s in Tooting, as a result of any downgrade of provision at St Helier Hospital, is of great concern, as a lot of Merton residents rely on that hospital too. We will continue to do all we can to fight for St Helier Hospital to retain its full suite of services and to get the investment it needs.”