The chairman of St Raphael's Hospice has resigned amid concerns about its future after the hospital it shares its site with was sold.

Group of nuns the Daughters of the Cross have run the London Road Hospital for over a century but, as the nuns age, they have decided sell it to Spire Healthcare.

Spire is the second largest private provider in the country with 38 hospitals, 11 clinics and numerous other healthcare services and was chosen as the best buyer for the site by the trustees of the Daughters of the Cross.

The sale, for an undisclosed amount, was finalised on Monday afternoon. Shortly after the announcement of the sale, Dr Ron McKeran, the hospice's chairman resigned.

He had been opposed to the sale because of its potential theat to the hospice, which relied on support from the hospital.

The sale will cause costs to St Raphael’s Hospice, in that it has had to employ a chief executive and will have to provide back-room services like IT support previously provided by the hospital itself.

It was feared these costs could be in excess of £1m per year but the figure could actually be half that and the hospital has agreed to provide support while the hospice makes its arrangements.

Dr McKeran and six senior consultants from the neighbouring private hospital St Anthony’s wrote to the Vatican last year and senior archbishops in the UK asking them to withdraw their permission to sell St Anthony’s to a commercial organisation.

But the sale was allowed to go through. Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow also asked the Government to intervene.

On Monday in an email to Sister Veronica, chairwoman of the trustees of the Daughters of the Cross, Dr McKeran said: "I have not been able to offer any credibility to the decision of the trustees to the Daughter's of the Cross to sell St Anthony's Hospital to a commercial organsiation and thus to separate the hospital from the hospice for all the reasons previously discussed...

"...I therefore wish to tender my resignation as chairman of St Raphael's Hospice Advisory Committee and my membership of St Anthony's Hospital Medical Advisory Committee with immediate effect."

Sister Veronica, chairwoman of the trustees of the Daughters of the Cross said: "St Anthony's Hospital has been part of our lives for many years, with its unique ethos of care and deep roots in the local community.

"We are sorry to see it go from our ownership, but very pleased that Spire will be taking the hospital forward to continue its good work with patients and staff from the local community for many years to come."

The hospice will remain under the ownership and management of its parent charity, the Daughters of the Cross.

The new chief executive of St Raphael's Mike Roycroft has not commented since the sale or Dr McKeran's resignation.

In an interview with the Sutton Guardian this year Mr Roycroft said the hospice's future was safe.