From October we will be changing the way we work at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. I would like to take this opportunity to explain what this will mean for patients as there seems to be a considerable amount of misunderstanding of what these changes are.

Firstly Epsom A&E is not closing. Your local A&E is still your first port of call in an accident or emergency situation. If you feel unwell and think you need to go to hospital, you should go there.

The vast majority of cases presenting at Epsom A&E - including patients with stroke, chest pains, diabetic crisis and asthma attacks - will continue to be treated at Epsom A&E as now.

Only patients who are assessed as requiring emergency surgery will be transferred to St Helier Hospital. This will be approximately seven patients per day out of a daily average of 145 A&E attendances. Over last year, this would mean 2,555 patients, or about one per cent, affected out of the 218,531 patients who use Epsom Hospital's services.

I understand the public will be concerned about the transfer of patients. However, this is already standard practice for patients who need specialist care which is not provided at Epsom or St Helier hospitals.

For example, patients with head injuries or who need heart surgery are taken to St George's in Tooting. Patients with severe burns may be taken to Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, and patients who have had a heart attack and need an angiography are taken to St Thomas' Hospital.

Patients who need renal dialysis are already transferred from Epsom to St Helier, where the Regional Renal Unit is situated.

All planned inpatient surgery will be concentrated at Epsom Hospital. Patients booked for operations requiring an overnight stay in hospital - such as gall stone removal, hernia operations, tumour removal, bowel and bladder surgery - will be operated on at Epsom.

Patients needing day surgery will not be affected.

All patients having planned inpatient surgery will be written to explaining the changes and how they will affect them individually.

CHRIS JONES Divisional director of surgical services and consultant urologist Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust