Update from Chris Grayling MP. 12th February 2020
As I indicated to you recently, The NHS has launched its formal consultation about the proposed new £400 million acute hospital, which it wants to build during the 2020s to serve our area. It has not formally decided where it wants to build the hospital, but is recommending that the final decision should be to have the new facility on the Sutton Hospital site next to the Royal Marsden.
I support the new investment, as there is no doubt that the existing services at both St Helier and Epsom are sited in buildings which are not going to be fit for the future. It’s clearly good for everyone who uses the NHS locally to have access to new facilities. The option of having a new hospital built on a site between Epsom and St Helier, and adjoining the Marsden, is clearly a strong option. But I believe that there is also a strong case for the investment to be Epsom and I am making that case to the NHS. The NHS accepts that all three sites can deliver the clinical benefits of the new investment. The Mole Valley MP, Sir Paul Beresford, and I are making the case for Epsom, but we need your views as well.
I think Epsom is the best site because:
• It is at the centre of the geographic area covered by the Epsom and St Helier Trust. The Trust’s area runs from the southern part of Merton in the north to Bookham in the south.
• It has much better transport links than the Sutton site, which is only accessible through narrow residential roads and has poorer public transport links.
• The NHS has failed to take into account the substantial house building programme expected in Surrey in the next few years. This will mean that there will be far more users of the hospital based in Surrey than at present.
And it’s cheaper to build!
Whatever happens, Epsom will retain much of its current work – and it will definitely not close. The services that would remain at Epsom would be all current outpatient and day case clinics and surgery, diagnostics, chemotherapy, inpatient care for less seriously ill patients, post- and ante-natal care, and planned orthopaedic surgery. There would also be an urgent treatment centre that would deal with about two thirds of current A&E attendances.
But I still believe Epsom to be the best option for the new investment in acute services. I hope you agree with me. If so please fill in the survey so I can pass your views on to the NHS.
Email from Dr Russell Hills, Clinical Chair, Surrey Downs CCG & Matthew Tait, Chief Officer, Surrey Heartlands ICS to local Councillors
Following on from our email on 18 December, we are writing to let you know that today health leaders from NHS Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have agreed to launch a public consultation on proposals to invest £500 million to improve hospital services.
The three CCGs met in public today and agreed to launch a public consultation on 8 January on three potential options for the location of a brand-new specialist emergency care hospital – on the Epsom, St Helier or Sutton hospital sites. Sutton was agreed by the CCGs as a preferred option for the consultation, but health leaders were clear that all three options could be delivered by the NHS.
You will be aware from our previous update that the new 21st century hospital facility would bring together six services for the most unwell patients, as well as births in hospital. All three options would see the majority of services (85%) staying at Epsom Hospital and St Helier Hospital, with an investment of at least £80 million in the current buildings. Both hospitals would run round the clock, 365 days a year, with urgent treatment centres, inpatient and outpatient services.
The CCGs have set out their preferred option for the new state-of-the-art hospital facility to be Sutton Hospital, next to the Royal Marsden specialist cancer hospital. Services provided at the specialist emergency care hospital would include A&E, critical care, emergency surgery, births in hospital and inpatient children’s beds. The consultation proposals explain that this option would have the greatest benefit for the most people, the least overall impact on travel for older people and those from deprived communities, while also having the smallest increase in average travel time for the most people. It would also be the easiest and fastest to build – taking around four years, rather than up to seven for the alternative options.
We are now urging people to give their views between Wednesday 8 January and Wednesday 1 April 2020. As well as responding on line directly to the consultation questionnaire, people can get involved through a whole range of different ways designed to make sure the NHS hears as many voices, from as many communities as possible, including those who find it difficult to go to meetings or respond in writing.
We hope you will actively encourage local communities to take part in the consultation process. You can read a full copy of our engagement plans here and below we have briefly outlined some of the ways people can get involved with the consultation and talk to us out our proposals:
• A series of 9 public listening events- open invites to share information on proposed options for change, answer specific questions from the public to increase understanding of the consultation and proposals, as well as invite and listen to feedback and encourage people to respond to the consultation questionnaire.
• Pop-up stalls in busy places- to raise awareness of the consultation, share information and encourage people to ask questions and complete the consultation questionnaire.
• Funding voluntary groups- to help communities with various protected characteristics and seldom heard groups engage with the consultation.
• Targeted outreach work- engagement activities with groups such as older people and deprived communities as well as seldom heard groups like people with learning disabilities.
• Telephone surveys- based on the questions within the consultation questionnaire and will target a representative range of views from the combined geographies and neighbouring areas of those who may not otherwise contribute to the consultation
Please do let us know if you would like further information on specific engagement activities taking place in your area.
A copy of the full consultation document and a consultation questionnaire can be accessed from improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk.
We are determined to make sure its consultation plans are as thorough, wide-ranging and transparent as possible. The “Improving Healthcare Together Programme” has been awarded a ‘best practice’ standard for its public consultation plan from an independent organisation called ‘The Consultation Institute’. The consultation documentation has also been approved by the ‘Plain English Society’
We are keen to emphasise that no decisions will be made on the future of Epsom and St Helier hospitals until the spring/summer when the CCGs will consider the views of local people and all the clinical and financial evidence.
As ever we would be happy to meet with you or arrange a phone call to talk through the planned engagement activities and the consultation process.
Dr Russell Hills, Clinical Chair, Surrey Downs CCG
Matthew Tait, Chief Officer, Surrey Heartlands ICS
Update from Chris Grayling M.P. (20th December 2019)
I am writing to let you know that the local NHS have announced that they intend to go ahead with the consultation about where they will build their new acute hospital early in the New Year, after a final meeting between the local GP groups to confirm their recommendations. At present they plan to recommend that Sutton should host the new unit.
I intend to challenge this assumption on two grounds, particularly the accessibility of the Sutton site and the fact that the NHS’s estimated cost for the three site options shows that it is far cheaper to site the new unit at Epsom than it is in Sutton. I understand the logic of siting the new unit half way between St Helier and Epsom, and also of close working with the Marsden, and from the feedback I had previously I know that many people are happy with that option. But it is also the case that Epsom is sited much more centrally in the area covered by the Trust, and it has much better transport links. And is significantly cheaper, based on the very limited financial information published so far.
I will be doing my own detailed consultation about the issue across the area early in the New Year so I know exactly what the majority view is. In the meantime I will be asking the NHS to justify their recommendation based on cost and accessibility.
I should, though, stress that under the proposals we are being asked to consider most of what Epsom Hospital does at the moment will remain in Epsom. And reports that have been circulating in recent weeks saying that the acute services at Epsom and St Helier will close next year are completely inaccurate. Any changes to our hospital services resulting from the consultation will not happen until the middle of the next decade.
I will provide a more detailed update in the New Year.
Finally can I once again wish you a Happy Christmas and a happy 2020. We are lucky to live in an area with a strong sense of community, and I am particularly grateful to all of those volunteers who are working across the Christmas period. Our local churches, local Islamic and Hindu and other faith groups, as well as a myriad of local charities, do incredible work locally and help make life easier for those facing challenges in our area. I know they will carry on doing so in 2020.
Follow this link to open a pdf of the latest communication from Chief Executive, Daniel Elkeles. (29th May 2019)