Health leaders also pledge more transport and parking, beds and services following public consultation.
NHS leaders have approved plans which will see a brand new, state of the art hospital built in Sutton to treat the sickest patients and most services staying put in modernised buildings at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.
A range of measures to address issues around transport and travel, bed numbers and services for older residents and more deprived communities, which were raised during the recent public consultation were also announced, including:
- extending the H1 Epsom and St Helier hospital bus route into Merton and further south into Surrey beyond Epsom and increasing the frequency between the three hospital sites
- reviewing car parking on all three sites to make sure there’s enough for patients, visitors and staff
- increased bed capacity to care for an extra 1,300 inpatients a year, plus advances in technology, treatment and closer working with community services so fewer patients will need an overnight stay and will get home sooner
- exploring opportunities for primary care services at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and expanding child and adolescent mental health services on the St Helier site.
Under the proposals, around 85% of current services will stay put at Epsom and St Helier, with six major services being brought together in the new specialist emergency care hospital, including A&E, critical care and emergency surgery.
The move to proceed with the proposals, known as Improving Healthcare Together, follows a joint decision by NHS Surrey Heartlands and NHS South West London clinical commissioning groups. At the Committees in Common meeting, they drew on a wide range of evidence, including the feedback from a 12-week public consultation which finished in early April 2020.
Welcoming the decision, Dr Andrew Murray, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Today’s decision will see £500m invested to build a brand new emergency care hospital in Sutton and modernise Epsom and St Helier hospitals. This means people can get the care they need in refurbished buildings locally, with a brand new specialist hospital nearby if they need it. This will give our residents the quality of care they need in the buildings and facilities our NHS staff deserve.”
During the consultation, issues were raised about travel and transport, bed numbers and access to services, especially for more deprived areas. There were also concerns around how the future hospitals would be able to manage during another pandemic.
Dr Charlotte Canniff, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Thank you to everyone who shared their views with us. We have listened and are already taking action on issues the public raised during the consultation. This will mean extending bus travel, more car parking at all three sites and exploring a wider range of services based around Epsom and St Helier hospitals.
“Our plans will deliver local and specialist hospitals with the facilities, flexibility and expertise to provide modern healthcare and manage any future pandemics. Today’s decision falls on the weekend of the NHS’s 72nd birthday and is a very welcome gift. This investment means we can move forward with confidence and build hospitals fit for the next generation.”
Arlene Wellman, Chief Nurse at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals, said:
“Nurses are the backbone of our hospitals delivering hands-on care to our patients every day. This decision means we will get better hospital facilities, lifts that work and single rooms to care for patients with infections. What covid-19 has shown the NHS is that for all our communities survival rates are higher if specialist hospital staff work together in one team, in one place to care for the sickest patients around the clock – today’s decision addresses that.”
Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“This is a hugely important and welcome decision about investing £500m here at Epsom and St Helier so we can provide high-quality healthcare for everyone for generations to come in a newly built emergency care hospital and refurbished existing buildings. It’s also important to remember that 85% of the services are staying put at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals with urgent treatment centres open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at both.”