I am writing to you with an update on the local NHS. You may have seen this week that the local NHS has launched another local consultation about the way it runs services in future. Like many of you, I suspect, I think it would be better if they got on with the day job rather than carrying out yet more consultations.
This latest exercise is bound to be seen in the context of future decision making about Epsom and St Helier hospitals. In fact I have been told by the local Clinical Commissioning Group, which oversees our local services, that this is not an exercise that is purely about hospitals. They want to discuss how services should be run for patients in both the community and hospital environments in the future.
All of this is yet another distraction for the team at Epsom Hospital who continue to do a really good job for patients. The hospital is meeting its targets better than most others in the NHS and it has a first rate team of people working there. There have also been some very good improvements on the site, which I saw when I was there last week.
You will hear all kinds of rumours in the coming months, particularly with the Trust continuing to argue that there should be a new hospital in Sutton, but my view is this. It remains the case that no senior person in the NHS has told me that there is money available to build a new hospital locally. There is undoubtedly a problem with a number of the buildings at Epsom and St Helier, but it is performing too well as a hospital trust to be seen as in urgent need compared to some others. If and when this changes, I will tell you, and I will also carry out a proper consultation exercise with my constituents to see whether you all support the idea of a new hospital, or whether we should defend the status quo. Clearly if a new, single hospital is ever seriously proposed, I would argue for it to be at Epsom – but the reality is that the push in the NHS would be to locate it alongside the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton. For now, though, any such development remains a distant prospect.
In the meantime, you will be aware that the Trust continues to want to sell off part of the Epsom site which it says is not needed. I am strongly opposed to any sale which does not keep the land for use for health and social care purposes. I am now working with the Borough Councillors on a cross-party effort to makes sure that this is what happens. I will keep you posted.