Recently, councillors and MPs received a letter from the NHS explaining the fact that having spent millions on deciding where to build a new hospital, we wouldn’t get one after all. Instead St Helier will see more buildings crammed on the fast disintegrating site. It looks as though maternity will move wholesale to St Helier with improved women’s and children’s services. A redesigned A&E is far too vague for my liking.

Conservative Parliamentary Candidates, Ken Andrew (Carshalton & Wallington) and Philippa Stroud (Sutton & Cheam) have called for:-

  • Clarity in stating when the Trust will be free of its current crippling debt, so that it can concentrate on having a new hospital built in St Helier.

  • An absolute commitment that SuttonHospital will continue to provide community healthcare.

  • Support for the Royal Marsden to develop their site and enable them to continue to be respected as world leaders in the care and cure of cancer patients.

Here’s the letter in full.

Dear Colleague,
We are shortly to begin the next round of stakeholder briefings on the progress the programme has made over the summer and what the next steps will be. I wanted to give you advance notice of the position we shall be setting out to stakeholders, and Mark Easton, the Better Healthcare Programme Director, will
be following up this letter with telephone calls to your offices to book a conversation with you.

As far as the development of the general hospital is concerned, we have received a report demonstrating that a totally new built hospital on either the Sutton or St Helier sites now looks to be unaffordable under the NHS capital regime. The margin of unaffordability is such that there is no prospect of bridging
the gap.

We have also looked at a mixed new build and refurbishment option at St Helier, moving most bed and outpatient facilities into a new building replacing Fergusson House, and upgrading the main building. The cost of this option would be less than new build, and while there is still an affordability gap, it is much less than other options we have looked at.

All these options have been modelled on the assumption that Epsom hospital becomes a large local care centre as previously envisaged by the programme. However, Surrey Primary Care Trust has confirmed its intention to go to public consultation on its Fit for the Future programme in late September, subject to
South East Coast Strategic Health Authority’s quality assurance. As a result of the Fit for the Future acute commissioning intentions, Surrey PCT will not be formally consulting, at this point, on any changes at Epsom hospital.

In addition, at its recent board meeting, the PCT took the decision to join the forthcoming London-wide consultation on Professor Sir Ara Darzi’s report Healthcare for London: A Framework for Action which is expected to begin this November. The board took that decision to ensure that the views of Surrey
residents, in particular those around the Epsom area, are heard in regard to
London’s healthcare services.

In parallel with the work being taken forward on A Framework for Action Surrey PCT, Sutton and Merton PCT and Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust have agreed to work together to develop options for changes to maternity and paediatrics on both sites, in an open and transparent way with staff, patients, members of the
public and yourselves.

While questions remain about patient flows from Epsom the final size and content of both sites will remain uncertain. We are therefore following the principle of moving forward as quickly as we can on the elements of the Better Healthcare Programme that we can progress.

We are not commissioning further work on the new build options for the general hospital and we are concentrating on coming up with the right solution for improving St Helier hospital. This would need to be phased and have a number of elements: a short term investment of £1.45m to upgrade women and children’s services; the development of a local care centre on the site (which would include outpatient services and a re-designed A&E department); and a new ward block within the affordability envelope we have established, subject to confirmation of its feasibility.

We have also established there is sufficient space to develop a new inpatient mental health facility on the site. This is an option which forms part of a wider assessment being undertaken by SWL & St George’s Mental Health Trust for the location of mental health services in Sutton and Merton.

Regarding the four local care centres proposed at St Helier, Nelson, Wilson and Wallington, we will now finalise the business case for them so that we can move as quickly as possible to the next phase. We also want to explore the feasibility of developing new community and primary care services on the Sutton site, in
conjunction with the Royal Marsden Hospital.

These developments will be subject to NHS business case requirements. We do not believe that anything we are currently proposing will require formal consultation as it builds on earlier proposals that had already been subject to consultation, but we will discuss this further with the JOSC. Meanwhile, we are keen to continue to engage with all stakeholders in the development of our plans.

I hope this has made the position clear. Mark Easton, Programme Director, will in any event be contacting your office to arrange a time to speak to you.

Yours sincerely,
Caroline Taylor
Programme Sponsor
Better Healthcare Closer to Home