Around 50,000 Merton residents will have to be absorbed by St. George’s, Kingston, and Croydon hospitals, should the proposed downgrading of emergency and maternity services at St Helier Hospital go ahead, according to an independent report commissioned by Merton Council.
The plans – first proposed in 2019 – would see maternity and A&E services stripped out of St Helier Hospital and centralised at a proposed new hospital in Belmont.
The independent impact assessment of the changes concludes that greater pressures would be placed upon St George’s, Kingston and Croydon by Merton residents seeking healthcare who would currently use St Helier as their nearest hospital.
“These proposals are outdated,” said Councillor Ross Garrod, Leader of the London Borough of Merton. “The original business case should be revisited – it was made pre-Covid, and a lot has changed since then. We’re talking about an extra 50,000 potential patients attending hospitals in neighbouring boroughs to meet the healthcare cuts being implemented by the Conservative Government.
“Let’s also not forget the huge role St Helier played during the pandemic, here it became one of the first hospitals in London to admit Covid patients. That’s why we’re continuing to call for services to remain at St Helier Hospital – the cheapest option put forward by local health officials – and for additional capital money to be invested in its services.”
“Merton’s population is growing, and is ageing at an accelerating rate,” said Councillor Peter McCabe, Cabinet Member for health and social care. This has demand implications on health services in southwest London as people aged over 65 account for 42% of A & E attendances.”
“The staff at Emergency Departments at St George’s, Kingston and Croydon perform heroic work on behalf of our local communities. However, waiting times and bed occupancy rates appear to be increasing for most providers, as they struggle with increased demand. The downgrade of St Helier will make this situation much worse, and runs the risk that staff and facilities become overwhelmed.”