Evidence has emerged that accident and emergency closures, similar to the ones being proposed at St Helier and Epsom hospitals, costs hundreds of lives.

Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request showed a 37 per cent increase in death rates for patients from Newark in Nottinghamshire where the A&E department closed two years ago.

The figures come from NHS trusts where Newark patients are now sent.

The Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review is proposing to close A&Es at both St Helier and Epsom hospitals but has been widely criticised with people raising concerns about having to travel further for acute care at St George’s in Tooting.

When asked if BSBV were taking measures to prevent increased death rates happening in south west London Michael Bailey, a consultant surgeon and BSBV medical director, said they would look carefully at the data.

A&E patients could be transported to St George's in Tooting

Mr Bailey said: “At this stage no decisions have been made, but clinicians would not recommend change unless it could improve patient care.

“Patients in Sutton who have a stroke, major trauma injury or heart attack are already taken to St George’s Hospital today.

"This was controversial when introduced in 2009, but these specialist centres across London are now saving hundreds of lives every year.

“Local clinicians believe that the best way to deliver safe and sustainable care is to concentrate emergency services in three hospitals rather than the current five, but to maintain urgent care centres, able to treat at least half of current A&E patients, at all five hospitals.

“These proposals are still being discussed by local Clinical Commissioning Groups and no changes would take place without full public consultation.”

Dr Clare Gerada the chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners said the data surrounding Newark’s A&E points to a close association between A&E closures and mortality and it was clear the provision of emergency care is in crisis across the whole of the NHS.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has now promised to look into the evidence.