Future of St Helier Hospital remains uncertain as final push to save services gets underway


The Better Services Better Value review suffered a setback last week.


By Sean Connor

The future of St Helier Hospital could be saved by South West London GPs and residents in the final push to keep the A&E and maternity units running.

All those who have campaigned for almost a decade hope to bury the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) healthcare review plans of closures, after they suffered a major setback last week.

Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), one of seven CCGs involved in BSBV, announced its withdrawal from the programme, fearing it would not be good for patients.

Sutton Council leader Ruth Dombey, said: “The CCG’s vote is confirmation that BSBV is deeply flawed. Frankly, the process should be abandoned immediately to save the waste of any more public money.”

Councillor Dombey however said that she acknowledged a review of services is necessary, especially with a difficult winter period fast approaching.

BSBV is a review of services across South West London and Epsom, led by local doctors, nurses and health professionals.

Despite recent setbacks in their plans to downgrade St Helier, the BSBV defiantly state they will not go away without a major service change.

BSBV has earmarked St Helier’s A&E, maternity and paediatric departments for closure, which puts great strain on other hospitals in Merton.

Dr David Finch, a Wandsworth GP, said none the region’s five hospitals are currently meeting the new London Quality Standards, measuring acute care in the capital.

ABOVE: MP for Sutton Tom Brake protesting against the closures

He said: “Our services are not set up to serve the needs of our population. We have an ageing population in which more and more people are living with long term conditions.

“The NHS has for some years been trying to deliver better out of hospital services, but it cannot easily do so when so much of its budget is tied up in hospitals – there’s only one pot of money and we need to spend more of it on community-based services.”

Sonia Adessi of Morden, said: “My heart stopped when first heard about the closures. The loss of the A&E unit in particular must surely mean that lives would be lost? Meddling with hospital procedures like this could be the difference between life and death.”

St George’s Hospital in Tooting is already reportedly under enormous pressure even without taking on Sutton and Epsom patients.

A spokesman of Carshalton, said: “The travel to the nearest hospitals would be impossible for most to get to, so the pressure on the ambulance crews would increase tenfold.”

It is unclear when the review, which has been delayed on numerous occasions since May 2011, will go to public consultation as NHS England is still seeking assurance from GPs in areas across south London.

Follow us @SW_Londoner


Related Articles