The leader of Merton Council has called for the head of the borough’s healthcare to quit today after its five year strategy was published.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis is calling for Dr Howard Freeman to quit his job as chairman of Merton’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) after a meeting between the pair today.

The news comes after plans to save nearly half a billion pounds in healthcare cost across south west London has been dubbed unachievable by health service regulators.

A draft strategy from newly formed South West London Collaborative Commissioning (SWLCC) was published last week stating there is a predicted budget shortfall of £210m over the next five years.

It would be shared between clinical commissioning groups working in Merton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Croydon, Kingston and Richmond.

In addition to this Epsom and St Helier, Croydon, Kingston and St George's NHS trusts have to identify £360m worth of savings over the same time period.

A Merton Council spokesperson said Coun Alambritis met with Dr Freeman and told him that the result of the local council elections last month, at which the future of St Helier Hospital was one of the defining issues, meant his position as chairman was no longer tenable.

Coun Alambritis said: “BSBV has been a fiasco and the voters of Merton delivered a devastating verdict.

“Whilst the local health service were spending millions on flawed plans to shut services at St Helier, Merton’s residents have grown increasingly angry.

“The battle to save St Helier was one of the top issues in the election, and local health bosses must not ignore democracy and just carry on regardless.

“Ultimately, responsibility lies with the chairman, and he has to go.

“His position is untenable, and if he will not do the decent thing and resign, I will be writing to the Health Secretary demanding that he sacks him as chairman.

“Merton’s residents have demanded change, and the chairman needs to respond to that.”

Anne Rainsberry, regional director of NHS England (London), said: "Dr Howard Freeman is a very experienced and respected clinician, not just across London as a whole, but across the entire NHS and has our full support."