Health leaders have stressed the urgency of deciding on how to invest £500 million in building a brand new hospital and improving existing buildings after feedback on the proposals were presented to local politicians from south west London and Surrey last week (Thursday 4 June).
Following a briefing for councillors on the findings of the public consultation about plans to spend at least £80 million improving Epsom and St Helier Hospitals and three options to build a brand new 21st century emergency care facility on the Epsom, St Helier or Sutton hospital sites they repeated their message that “we must not delay investing in our hospitals for patients and NHS frontline staff”.
The briefing was the latest in a series of updates given to members of the South West London and Surrey JHSC Sub-committee, who also had the opportunity to give their views on the analysis and proposals.
It follows a public consultation, which ran from 8 January until 1 April this year, and was made by representatives of South West London and Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and followed their recent publication of independent analysis of the feedback.
Under the proposals, the majority of services would stay at Epsom and St Helier with both hospitals running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and urgent treatment centres at each. Six core services for the sickest patients needing more specialist care and births in hospital would be brought together on one site in a new state-of-the-art building.
Dr Andrew Murray, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS South West London CCG, said: “We’re grateful for the chance to update the committee on the progress of this incredibly important project. Covid-19 has shown that there’s no time like the present to invest in our hospitals.
“Now more than ever we need to ensure the right healthcare services for local people and under our proposals we would gain a brand new specialist hospital and see an increase of around 15% in critical care beds while 50% of beds would be in single rooms for better infection control.
“More work is being done to consider the impact of the pandemic on our clinical model and ensure it fully meets any future needs. This will be considered alongside everything else at next month’s meeting – including the many thousands of consultation responses and a decision-making business case.”
The two CCGs’ governing bodies are due to meet on Friday 3 July 2020 to make a decision. They will consider the consultation feedback and all the evidence alongside a decision-making business case. They are looking at ways of making this happen so the public can join the meeting while following current covid-19 public health guidelines, including online options.
Surrey Downs Integrated Care Partnership Clinical Chair and GP Russell Hills said: “This pandemic shows we cannot afford to delay improving and modernising our local health services for the benefit of both patients and staff – and the independent analysis of feedback shows there is clear support for this vital investment.
“It’s important to stress that under any of the proposals most services will remain exactly where they are and once a final decision is made there will be at least five years to work with communities to address concerns and ensure the newly built and refurbished existing hospitals work seamlessly together – indeed we’ve already started examining these, particularly around travel, transport and bed numbers.”
The findings of the independent analysis of the consultation feedback showed that on balance across all strands of the consultation Sutton received more support as the preferred site for the new facility.
Other analysis included:
* Many consultees recognised the challenges facing the NHS nationally and at Epsom and St Helier hospitals locally
* Widespread support for the proposed clinical model to address the case for change, particularly from NHS staff and clinical stakeholders
* The additional £500m investment was welcomed.