The main reason we need to change our hospital services is to make sure high quality, safe services are provided for all patients for the long term. Patients need to be seen by the right person at the right time in the right place and at the moment we know that this is not always happening. At the moment, lots of patients attending our A&Es do not need specialist emergency care, they need urgent care. Urgent care would continue to be provided at both hospital sites in urgent treatment centres which would be open 24 hours a day every day of the year. In addition, if Sutton is chosen as the site for the specialist emergency care hospital there would be a third urgent treatment centre.
Like many other hospitals, we face enormous challenges around recruiting and keeping staff, particularly within our Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and acute care services. Epsom and St Helier hospitals are the only hospitals in South West London that is not clinically sustainable in the emergency department and acute medicine due to a 25 consultant shortage against our standards. Additionally, there are shortages in middle grade doctors, junior doctors and nursing staff. The Care Quality Commission has highlighted workforce shortages across its two sites as a critical issue. We have had to rely on a high number of temporary staff which is expensive and they need additional resource to support them to carry out their duties.
In addition, in our two A&Es, we are treating patients with minor injuries, for example a sprained ankle, alongside those with a life-threatening illness. By creating a separate specialist emergency care hospital with a dedicated Emergency Department and urgent treatment centres (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) at both hospital sites, patients would be safely and quickly seen in the right place by the right doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.