More than £2 million has been spent by consultants on proposed changes to health services in southwest London after garnering around 800 responses.

Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh labelled the return rate as “utterly abysmal” during a House of Commons debate.

She says plans for the area have seen up to £50 million spent over the past two decades on “almost-identical” consultations and programmes.

But those behind the major consultation in question, Improving Healthcare Together 2020-2030, insist the work done has been productive and worthwhile.

Ms McDonagh led an adjournment debate on the future of St George’s and St Helier hospitals in the House of Commons on February 19.

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She said: “The programme was launched last summer – they always choose the summer, mister deputy speaker – undertaking an initial public engagement that is expected to transition into a public consultation this coming summer.

“But mister deputy speaker just under 837 people responded to the public engagement, and that’s including hundreds of NHS staff and 169 comments on Twitter or Facebook.

“That is an utterly abysmal response considering the £2.2 million of taxpayers’ money squandered on the programme already.”

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Improving Healthcare Together is currently assessing three particular options following the challenges identified in a 2018 issues paper.

Proposals have suggested building a new multi-million pound hospital, housing A&E and maternity services, but there is significant support to keep current provisions where they are.

It has since emerged that £2,209,900 was spent last year on the latest consultation, run in collaboration by Merton, Sutton and Surrey Downs clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

In the public engagement process there were just 837 responses.

Ms McDonagh also claimed 6,000 of her constituents’ responses were not included in one instance because they were “not on the official documentation”.

The Mitcham and Morden MP later asked minister of care Caroline Dinenage to ensure consultation documents go “everywhere or nowhere”, and there is consideration to costs involved.

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She added: “I am amazed that the NHS gets so few people to turn up to events they spend so much money on.”

Gosport MP Mrs Dinenage said: “It always amazes me as well how few people engage in some of the consultations which are often discussing huge sums of money and, in effect, some really important day-to-day provision of essential care services in their area(s).

“I've already spoken about how it needs to go beyond the area as well and look at the impact on other local services and those that use them.

“She's absolutely right to say that consultation has to be effective and it has to ask everybody that might be impacted by any changes.”

Improving Healthcare Together say the money spent doesn't just include engagement activity but “significant analysis and support work required” for developing a draft pre-consultation business case.