Royal College of Nursing warn South West London hospitals could suffer if St Helier’s downgrade goes ahead


In an open letter, the RCN urge senior GPs to reject the plans.

By Jacob Metcalf

The proposal to downgrade St Helier’s Hospital will heap more pressure on South West London hospitals, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

In an open letter, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) savaged the idea of downgrading St Helier’s, saying that the views of large groups of health professionals have been completely ignored.

The RCN urged senior GPs to reject the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) proposals, addressing he letter to the Surrey Downs Clinical Group Board which will convene on 17 May to decide whether to back the proposal.

“Colleagues at St George’s walk in centre tell us that early in the morning there is often a queue of people waiting outside the building to access services,” writes Mike Smith, Chair of Staffside Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“Do we really want to send our patients to that pressurised environment that can’t meet it’s 95% target?”

Other concerns raised included the lack of planned social care for an expanding elderly population, and the lack of consultation with local residents.

St George’s hospital in Tooting recently came under fire from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the proposed downgrade of St Helier’s Hospital could be detrimental in its ability to improve standards.

 The letter questions why there is ‘very little’ recognition of the quality of services at local hospitals, so that some failing hospitals can keep its services when a succeeding one like St Helier is to be downgraded.

Shas Sheehan, the Parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon in 2010, has campaigned in recent months to stop closures and the downgrading of hospitals and day centres in the south west London Area.

“It makes little sense to close a hospital which is performing well like St Helier,” she said.

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