The new year started with a major local announcement. It’s happening again… our local health services have launched a consultation on the future of St Helier Hospital, running until 1st April.
Like you, I always welcome more money for our treasured NHS – particularly if it is to improve the vital health services across our constituency. That’s why I listened closely when the Government announced an investment of £500m to Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust. But, as ever, the devil is in the detail.
Behind the posters and press releases, the reality is that these funds will downgrade at least one or both of St Helier or Epsom Hospitals, moving all acute services to a new facility. Local health leaders have stated clearly that their preferred outcome is for St Helier Hospital to lose these vital services and for them to be moved to Belmont in Sutton.
If this downgrade of St Helier is approved the hospital would lose:
- Major A&E
- Acute Medicine
- Critical Care
- Emergency Surgery
- Maternity Unit
- In-patient paediatrics and children’s beds
In total, St Helier would lose 62% of beds and become nothing more than a glorified walk-in centre. I believe that it is vital that St Helier remains fully operational and retains all of these vital services.
Because these proposals would not just impact St Helier. If St Helier loses these services to a new
facility in Belmont, countless local residents have told me that they would instead turn to St George’s or Croydon University Hospitals. But these hospitals are already under serious pressure. Imagine the pressure they would then be under! We’ve already lost our Wilson Walk-In Centre – we can’t afford to lose even more.
If you have lived in our area for a long time you will share my frustration that this is happening yet again. Similar consultations have happened on multiple occasions (wasting £50 million of taxpayer’s money) but it is the strength of our community and campaign that has kept St Helier fully operational.
And that’s why we need to fight together once again.
We should of course welcome any investment in health services in our area, but any available funding must be used where it is needed most: to improve St Helier Hospital on its current site.
For decades, the local NHS has tried to downgrade our hospital but it is the strength of our community that
has prevailed. I stand ready to campaign for our hospital once again and I hope you will join me.