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Photo – Emily Brothers Outside St Helier Hospital 

Photo – Emily Brothers Outside St Helier Hospital

Labour’s Prospective Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam, Emily Brothers met yesterday with Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive of Epsom and St Helier Hospital NHS Trust. This followed a report on BBC London earlier this week which suggested that consultants have developed an options appraisal for replacing Epsom and St Helier sites with a super hospital. Speaking after the meeting, Ms Brothers said:
“I want to work with the Trust to help deliver against the current Five-Year Strategy, as well as finding solutions beyond 2020 for comprehensive and high quality integrated health and social care services for Sutton residents.
“I’m encouraged by Epsom and St Helier University Hospital NHS Trust achieving a breakeven position this year, but only made possible by selling off land, but that ‘sticking plaster’ doesn’t provide a lasting solution. Performance is good and risk low, thanks to the hardwork and dedication of doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff. There are significant challenges ahead and that’s why I’m asking Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to take steps to foster the benefits of the ‘one team, one trust’ Five-Year Strategy.
“What we’ve seen this week over St Helier is a fiasco from the Liberal Democrats, following on from their abysmal health record in government. First, Nick Clegg turns up at St Helier, but soon runs off when things get challenging. Second, ‘trainGate’ gives rise to more speculation and uncertainty. There couldn’t have been a clearer indication of Lib Dem ineptitude.
“I was assured by Mr Elkeles at the recent Board meeting that the Trust’s new Five-Year Strategy would be delivered. That assurance was repeated today and that’s what I’ll hold the Trust to account on. What may emerge beyond the current Strategy will depend on the Trust’s estate management review and any associated feasibility studies, on which there needs to be more transparency and engagement with local people.
“Most importantly, the outcome of the election will shape the future of local health services. That’s why we need a Labour Government, as Lib Dem and Tories alike will subject our NHS to increasing levels of competition and will concentrate resources.
“Immediately, we need clarification from Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group and their partners. Under current arrangements they have a pivotal role in determining the configuration of local services, but they are floundering at a particularly important time when leadership is needed.
“I suspect another Tory and Lib Dem administration will result in another discredited ‘Better Services, Better Value’ Review - if not in name, then in deed. BSBV was about GP’s trying to create a community hospital, whereas the Trust is seeking to assert itself as an acute hospital with foundation status. That’s creating tension and preventing a ‘one vision’ approach.
“I want local commissioners and providers to leave the politics to the politicians and get around the table to deliver and develop co-ordinated care that meets the needs of local people. Sutton’s patients deserve a ‘better plan’ than the see-saw that has been swinging between different vested interests for far too long.
“The best option by far is the re-development of both Epsom and St Helier sites. That is much needed and twin-site delivery is well supported by local people. It isn’t a super hospital that is needed, but a comprehensive set of high quality services delivered from the twin-sites and better linked into community based services.
“Building a super hospital on the old Sutton Hospital site doesn’t make sense when the Trust has already sold off a portion of land very recently, hopefully for a new secondary school. There is a great deal of merit in selling off the remaining brownfield site for affordable housing and creating a life sciences cluster.
“Local Tories talk about developing a Polyclinic in this area instead of a Medical Centre which is planned for the former Henderson Hospital site. They are playing to the faceless crowd, as the proposal appears to have no substance to it whatsoever.
“I understand that building a new hospital or extending the current St Helier site on the open metropolitan land opposite the hospital is another consideration. Despite the serious planning obstacles this would incur, I sense the Trust may well prefer this option. That will need a lot of serious consideration, but that is in the long term.
“I’m clear that much of the Trust’s estate isn’t fit for purpose. That’s why substantial investment is needed, to provide modern high quality accommodation and facilities from 2025, to meet our needs and those of future generations. I’m open minded on options for change, but there are some serious ‘red lines’, with the retention of A&E and maternity services being at the forefront.
“Labour run Merton Council will debate the future of St Helier Hospital tonight. I call on Lib Dem Sutton Council to do likewise at their meeting next week. Failure to set out a position will show a lack of commitment to our local hospital.
“I recently wrote to Brendan Hudson, Chair of the Sutton Commissioning Group, asking them to support the Trust’s new Five-Year Strategy. That hasn’t been forthcoming so far. That’s seriously concerning, as well as their failure to deliver a sustainable strategy to comprehensively meet the needs of local people.”

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