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Save our St Helier - Update from Paul Burstow MP, 05 February 2013

Save our St Helier

Dear resident,

Last year BSBV proposed that St Helier should become a 'cold site', meaning that it would only undertake planned care and surgery. The hospital would lose its A&E and Maternity units as part of a rationalisation of these services.

I have opposed the proposals to remove A&E and Maternity on the grounds that the proposals are seriously flawed in a number of ways:

  • The process for selecting which hospital should lose these services discounted current clinical performance. In other words, quality was not considered and it was assumed that the remaining A&E and Maternity units would improve. St Helier fares extremely well in such a comparison of quality and clinical outcomes.
  • Assumptions being made about reduced demand for A&E are incredibly optimistic and are not supported by experience anywhere else in the NHS. An independent clinical review of BSBV said as much.
  • Forecasts on which BSBV is based are already out of date and proved to be optimistic. For example, the number of births at St Helier last year already exceeds what was forecast for 2015! There has been no serious attempt to factor in actual and projected demand for Maternity, Paediatrics, and A&E.
  • Estimates of journey times for patients and families seriously underestimate the time it takes to make a journey by road in this part of London. For example, BSBV assert that the added journey time to get to St Georges rather than St Helier is just 15 minutes!

As a consequence of the uncertainty caused by BSBV, a number of things have happened. The proposed demerger of Epsom and St Helier hospitals has been derailed. This has caused a serious headache for St Helier hospital management and clinicians who were working towards a practical set of proposals to protect services and balance their budget. The rebuild and refurbishment of St Helier has been delayed by almost two years, putting £219 million of investment at risk.

Every time BSBV is subject to scrutiny by local councillors further flaws or gaps in their plans are exposed.

As things stand BSBV are pressing ahead and have now concluded that with Epsom hospital not demerging from St Helier there is a need to close two A&E and maternity units! A secret BSBV panel will shortly meet to decide which of the five hospitals in South West London will lose out.

All of this is in the hands of the local NHS. So far the Department of Health has not expressed a view about the process or the proposals. Only once BSBV consult the public and then decide to proceed can our local Council refer the whole matter to the Secretary of State for Health to review the local decision.

Recently, I led a deputation of your Lib Dem Council Leader, Ruth Dombey and Carshalton MP, Tom Brake, to share our concerns with a health minister.

My latest information suggests that this could drag on into the autumn with BSBV consulting on proposals this summer. That would mean no final decision until next year, another year of uncertainty for the staff at St Helier and for local residents like you and me.

Please sign our petition if you haven't already, or click here to subscribe to my email list so that I can send you information about the latest meetings and events.

Best wishes,


Paul Burstow

Member of Parliament for Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park

St Helier Campaign - Background

Local Liberal Democrats outside St Helier Hospital

Since 2012, the NHS South West London's Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review has been investigating the future of services in four hospitals: St George's, St Helier, Kingston and Croydon University. This includes centralising essential and life-saving services with the aim of improving quality and safety and ensuring that high quality care can be provided seven days a week. This is a local NHS review and was not instigated by Ministers or the Department of Health, although if the decision is challenged it could be referred to the Secretary of State.

On Wednesday 9th May a 60 person panel made up of GPs, patient groups, NHS representatives and South West London Councils recommended that St Helier should become the centre for planned surgery in South West London, losing its A&E and maternity units.

At this point no final decisions have been taken, but Paul Burstow MP and his Lib Dem team are fighting to ensure these damaging recommendations are stopped in their tracks and do not make it through the consultation process.

Your local Lib Dems believe that:

  • The panel have ignored the pressure on all A&Es and maternity units in South West London, and it makes no sense in terms of safety or quality to close them
  • As the panel was told that only 8% of their scoring would reflect how easy it was to make the chosen option happen, the review needs to take real life into account more
  • When we need help in an emergency, we need a good local service on our doorstep
  • St Helier, with the best patient feedback in South West London, is worth fighting for

If you agree that our local hospital should keep its maternity and A&E units, please sign our petition.