The Leader of the London Borough of Merton has called for an urgent re-assessment of the impact of looming cuts to vital services at St Helier hospital, following the publication of latest patient figures.
Cllr Ross Garrod said the decision to go ahead with closing the emergency department, maternity services and children’s in-patient services without any re-assessment following the pandemic is “a dereliction of duty” to local people.
During 2022/23, bed occupancy rates at the Epsom and St Helier hospitals have risen consistently in the first three quarters of the financial year.
At the same time, St George’s Hospital has been operating at full capacity and the Council is increasingly concerned that they would not be able to cope with the flow of additional patients once services are moved to Belmont – miles further away from Merton’s most vulnerable communities.
Cllr Garrod has this week written to the head of the national New Hospitals Programme – the NHS body proposing to scrap the services and move them to Belmont – to call for a new public sector equalities impact assessment to be carried out.
During the pre-pandemic consultation on closing services, more than 3,000 Merton residents signed a petition calling for the plans to be re-thought – a petition NHS leaders ignored.
Cllr Garrod said: “Cutting the vital services our communities rely on the most, moving them miles away while hospitalisation rates continue to grow at St Helier, and doing all that with no current assessment of health pressures is nonsensical.
“To press ahead with huge cuts without any assessment of the post-pandemic health impacts is bordering on a dereliction of duty.
“I’ve formally requested the NHS undertake a re-assessment of the proposals, one based on what is happening now – not what was happening before the pandemic.”