Update from Chris Grayling MP. 15th January 2020
I am writing to you with a further update about what is happening over the future of Epsom Hospital.
The NHS has now decided to launch 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 potentially attractive one. However I have looked carefully at all the evidence put forward and believe that there remains a very strong case for the new build to be at Epsom.
So I will be making the argument that it should be at Epsom, which is sited at the geographic centre of the area covered by the Trust. In fact the Epsom option is the most financially attractive to the Epsom and St Helier Trust, and delivers the same care plan as the other two sites. But it does have more of a knock-on effect on other hospitals, with patients in the St Helier area more likely to go to Kingston, Croydon or St George’s if the new unit is at Epsom. That’s why the NHS is making the recommendation for Sutton.
However with the need to provide more homes in Surrey, I am not convinced that all the benefits of Epsom have been properly considered, and will be making this argument strongly. That part of Sutton is also poor for transport links compared to Epsom and access to the site is not great.
You will be receiving a leaflet through your door from the NHS about this. Please do take part in the consultation.
I have also now had confirmation from the NHS about what the plans mean for Epsom if it does not win the battle to be the chosen site. It will continue to provide most of what it does at the moment, and will be particularly focused on supporting the frail elderly.
The services that would remain at Epsom would be:
• All current outpatient clinics
• All current daycase surgery
• All current urgent treatment centre attendances (c. 66% of emergency attendances)
• All current diagnostics and endoscopy
• All current chemotherapy
• Inpatient spell for patients needing inpatient care but not needing major acute services (c. 57% of NEL inpatient days)
• All current ante- and post-natal care
• SWLEOC – the elective orthopaedic centre
The services currently provided at Epsom that would move would be:
• Emergency department attendances and admissions (c. 33% of emergency attendances)
• Inpatient spell for patients needing critical care and/or major acute services (c. 43% of NEL inpatient days)
• High dependency unit
• Inpatient paediatrics
• Hospital birth episodes
I have been promised that some ambulances will continue to come to Epsom, particularly for the frail elderly who need the kind of specialist care that it will offer. It will continue to have just under 300 beds. So if Sutton is the chosen option Epsom will remain a significant local facility for the NHS, though it won’t carry out major operations any more.
I hope this is helpful, and will be back in touch shortly with more details of how my team and I, together with Sir Paul Beresford in Mole Valley, will be mounting the campaign in support of Epsom Hospital.
With best wishes
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)