KOSHH set for first march to celebrate 70th anniversary of the NHS

Ahead of a planned march on Saturday July 7, campaign group Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) vowed to keep fighting for the future of St Helier and Epsom hospitals.

KOSHH will march from Manor Park in Sutton at midday to St Helier hospital to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS.

Despite assurances from NHS Trust chief executive Daniel Elkeles that the hospitals will not be closed, campaigner Colin Crilly believes the public are being misled and that the work of KOSHH is necessary to provide accurate information to the public regarding what the NHS Trust plans for the hospitals.

Mr Crilly said: “This is our first proper march.

“We want to tell people that the official version that they are getting is not accurate.

“They don’t realise the dangers they hold.

“They are looking for reasons to close hospitals, and St Helier and Epsom have always been in their sights.”

In February 2014 the governments Better Services Better Value Scheme (BSBV) was concluded after it failed to generate the support required to proceed with its policies, and Mr Crilly believes the new Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP) is simply a rebranding.

The STP is a 5-year plan that tackles money, workforce, estates and consistent quality of care within the NHS.

Mr Crilly said: “They’ve brushed it down, (BSBV), given it a new name, and trying it again.

“Anyone can tell you that hospitals are struggling to cope, the A&E’s are struggling to match their targets.

“So if these new plans were to have an additional hospital, or a facility, we wouldn’t be campaigning.”

Mr Crilly says it is important for KOSHH to continue their work and raise awareness of the issues at St Helier because finding any information about the status of the hospitals are near impossible.

“The whole point of our campaign group is to find out what realy is going on.

“They (NHS Trust) say that they are open and transparent, and that their meetings are open to the public, but you try finding out about them and it’s difficult, we have an inkling when and where these events take place, and even then they are often cancelled at short notice.”

The campaign groups concerns are that both hospitals, Epsom and St Helier, will be closed down and replaced by one facility, not a hospital.

A statement from Mr Elkeles did little to ease Mr Crilly’s thoughts of what the trust holds in store for the hospital.

Mr Elkeles said: “There are no plans to close either hospital.

“In fact we are investing £100 million in our estates over the next few years.

“However to secure healthcare in our area for generations to come, we need to build a state-of-the -art new facility on one of our existing hospital sites.”

According to Mr Crilly the statement is riddled with holes and based on historical reasoning he has little confidence a new facility will be built.

Mr Crilly believes the march will send a clear message to the NHS Trust and the public.

The NHS is in its 70th anniversary, we should celebrate it, but people need to know it may not last much longer.”

The next public discussion will be held by NHS Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) as part of the Improving Healthcare Together 2020-2030 programme, on Monday 23 July 1pm at Epsom Methodist Church.

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