Epsom Hospital's proposed merger with Ashford and St Peter’s has been called-off in a shock announcement today.

An NHS London board meeting decided to pull the plug on the proposed acquisition of Epsom by Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust because a financially viable plan for the future of Epsom hospital as part of the merged trust could not be developed.

The announcement will come as a huge blow to all the residents, patients and hospital staff who backed the the merger as the best way of ensuring Epsom Hospital's future.

Just last month, residents left a public meeting at Epsom town hall reassured that the proposed merger would be good news for the hospital and that its accident and emergency and maternity units were not under threat.

NHS London said urgent discussions will now take place "to determine whether a way forward can be found".

Talks will take place with the clinical commissioning groups in Surrey and south west London - who will take on future commissioning responsibilities - the newly formed NHS Trust Development Authority, the NHS Commissioning Board, and the two hospital trusts.

Ruth Carnall, chief executive of NHS London, said: "NHS London has agreed today with the recommendation from the transaction board that the plan to de-merge Epsom Hospital from St Helier and for Epsom Hospital to then join with Ashford and St Peter’s should not proceed at this time.

"I am disappointed this decision has had to be taken and want to acknowledge the great effort that has been undertaken to get to this stage.

"This has been a very complex process and a lot of work has gone into planning for the potential integration of these organisations.

"Working with our NHS partners we will now examine alternative options for the future of the hospitals.

"This must ensure they are sustainable - both financially and clinically - for the long term."

The decision has implications for the NHS South West London Better Services Better Value (BSBV) programme, as part of which it has been proposed that the accident and emergency, maternity and children's wards at St Helier Hospital should be axed.

The proposals were built on the assumption that Epsom Hospital would no longer be a part of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust said: "Whilst we have no confirmed plans at this stage, we will be working closely with our local clinical commissioning groups, NHS partners and stakeholders to discuss and, in time, agree the next steps.

"All parties have been clear that the decision to halt the transaction is not based on the ability of our staff, nor the quality of the services we provide.

"We have to protect the interests of our patients and believe that this is the right decision at this point."

Andrew Liles, chief executive of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the trust was committed to taking part in discussions to see if it could play a part in the future of Epsom Hospital.

He said: "We have put a lot of time and effort into developing these plans and are very disappointed that our collective hard work has not led to us being able to bring the three hospitals together to create a new Foundation Trust in Surrey."

What are your views on today's announcement?  Contact Hardeep Matharu on hmatharu@london.newsquest.co.uk or 0208 7222 6346, or leave a comment below.