Merton Council has announced its plans to address the ‘downgrading’ of St Helier in a letter to the Secretary of State.

The council plans to request an independent review into the proposed decision to see 'six major' services including, A&E, critical care and emergency surgery be combined and moved to a new site in Belmont.

The new care facility will arrive as part of a massive state investment of £500 million for improving Epsom and St Helier Hospitals.

See more: Sutton Chosen for site of new emergency care facility

Following the approval of the NHS Committees in Common of the South West London and Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Groups on July 3.

See more: MP's react to announcement of new emergency care centre

Your Local Guardian:

Merton Council says they are challenging this, on the grounds that “this would mean moving vital health services away from deprived areas and into a more affluent place.”

The council warns this could lead to patients seeking emergency care at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, which is "geographically closer to many residents compared to Belmont."

Council officials also worry, residents could decide to not seek hospital treatment at all.

Your Local Guardian:

In the letter, the council also argues that the impact of Covid-19 has not properly been taken into account.

The council’s Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel decided at their meeting yesterday (July 21), to send a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Chair of the Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Councillor Peter McCabe, said: “Closing acute services at St Helier Hospital would be detrimental to residents in the most deprived areas of Merton.

"It would result in a substantially inferior health service for patients across the borough and beyond."

He added: “As a consequence, we have therefore decided to ask the health secretary to refer the proposed decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, before the final decision is made on the location of the specialist emergency care hospital by the CCGs.”

Your Local Guardian:

In response to Merton Councils request, Chief Nurse at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals, Arlene Wellman said: