£500 million investment in new NHS hospital may take services away from most deprived areas

Imogen Smith
March 6 2020, 17.30

A £500 million Government investment may be used to move NHS services away from deprived areas in Sutton, Croydon and Merton, according to Siobhain McDonagh MP.

The MP for Mitcham and Morden spoke about the investment in Parliament last week during the Health Inequalities Debate.

She said: “The £500 million promised by the Government for Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust provides the perfect opportunity to begin to address health inequalities in my part of south west London.

“Instead, my local NHS has proposed moving services away from the most deprived areas to leafy Belmont, where life expectancy is longest.”

The £500 million investment was pledged by the Government in October 2019 to Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Trust.

NHS Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have proposed that the investment be used to build a new specialist emergency care hospital on either Epsom, Sutton or St Helier hospital sites.

The CCGs have put forward the Sutton site – in Belmont – as their preferred option.

Epsom and St Helier hospitals would be significantly downgraded under this plan.  

Ms McDonagh said during the debate that the downgrade at St Helier hospital ‘would leave a shell of a hospital more accurately described as a walk-in centre’.

Of the 51 most deprived areas in the NHS Trust’s catchment, only one is nearest to the Sutton site, whereas 42 are closest to St Helier Hospital.

Ms McDonagh said today: “The NHS proposals to remove the A&E, the maternity, the children’s services, the intensive care unit and 62% of beds at St Helier Hospital flies in the face of this week’s report on health inequalities.

“It’s taking the services away from those most in need, giving them to those who live longer and who are wealthier.”

Merton GP and chair of NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Dr Andrew Murray said: “We’re investing £500m to build a new 21st century specialist emergency hospital and improve the quality of care for local people.

“There would be no reduction of beds under any of our proposals and all three options would see 85% of services staying at Epsom and St Helier hospitals – with urgent treatment centres open 365 days a year and a minimum investment of £80m in the current buildings.

“No decisions will be made until we’ve considered all the consultation responses and evidence – including in-depth research on the potential impacts of the proposals on a range of different communities, like those from the most deprived areas.”

A public consultation on the three site options was launched on January 8, closing on April 1.

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