The future of St Helier hospital looks darker than ever after a leak revealed health bosses are proposing to severely downgrade it.

Last year the controversial Better Services Better Value healthcare review recommended the closure of St Helier’s accident and emergency and maternity department while it became a centre for elective care (operations).

However, a leak has revealed BSBV’s preferred option for the region’s healthcare is St Helier becoming a "local hospital" losing its A&E and maternity and Epsom also losing their frontline services but becoming a centre for elective care.

BSBV's second, but less preferred, recommendation has been revealed as Epsom becoming the local hospital with St Helier becoming the centre for elective care.

Finally their third and least preferred option has been revealed as St Helier continuing as an acute hospital with Epsom becoming the centre for elective care and Croydon University Hospital becoming the most downgraded.

BSBV’s options for the future of the region’s healthcare were expected to be released on Friday following a discussion at their programme board meeting tomorrow.

In the first real test of the government’s policy, putting GPs in charge of local healthcare, the seven Clinical Commissioning Groups in the region will decide this month whether they support the proposals which will then be subject to a 12 week public consultation.

A spokesman for the Epsom and St Helier Trust said they were not expecting to hear the recommendations until Friday, May 3, and are unable to comment until then.

They said that if the proposals were agreed they would not expect any change to services until 2017/18 at the earliest and added: "In the meantime, it remains 'business as usual' across our hospitals with our doctors, nurses, midwives and other staff continuing to focus on providing our patients with the best possible care."

A BSBV spokesperson said: "No decisions have been made yet and no recommendations have been agreed at this stage. This is the beginning of a long process - the BSBV Programme Board meets tomorrow and then any recommendations would need to be agreed by the seven local clinical commissioning groups, and following this, any proposals would be subject to a three-month public consultation."

BSBV is also expected to announce its latest proposals for the future of children’s services in the region.

It would take just one CCG to decide against the review for it to collapse.

Sutton CCG are currently considering the BSBV review and are expected to make a decision on whether they think it should go to public consultation at their board meeting on Thursday, May 9, at 1pm.


Your Local Guardian: MP Paul Burstow

Paul Burstow, MP for Sutton and Cheam, said: "They haven’t listened they haven’t understood and now they are playing a game of playing one hospital against another.

"It is bad for St Helier and it is bad for local health services and really the other thing I would say is the battle lines are clearly drawn – they have a flawed process so far and the data on which they base their decisions is out of date and wrong.

"They have not got a plan of what they would do with all the poor souls they don’t think need to be in A&E. They are planning to keep all [elective care] over at Epsom as a way of maintaining viability there. At every stage they have made things worse not better."

Your Local Guardian: Tom Brake

Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, said: “This is the worst possible case for St Helier. We will now have to redouble our efforts to make sure St Helier keeps its A&E and maternity. This is what local people want and this is what we have got to continue fighting for.”

Your Local Guardian: New leader of the council Ruth Dombey

Ruth Dombey, leader of Sutton Council is encouraging people to lobby their local GPs because ultimately it will be the CCGs who make the decision she said: “We are all very angry, sadly we are not that surprised because we have known for some time it is flawed and like a done deal.
“They have not listened to us and the tens of thousands of people who have protested.”

Your Local Guardian: Councillor Mary Burstow

Mary Burstow, the chairman of Sutton Council's health, well-being and scrutiny committee, said: “St Helier is achieving great things. It’s as if there’s not reward at all for everybody in terms of their achievements in maternity and the levels of patient care. It is sad and it is wrong.”