'Epsom Hospital will not be stripped of its services', says MP
Chris Grayling MP said he has been given a pledge that Epsom Hospital will not be stripped off its services in the wake of the collapsed merger with Ashford and St Peter's
Epsom's MP has obtained a pledge that Epsom Hospital will not be stripped of its services in the wake of the collapsed merger with Ashford and St Peter’s.
Chris Grayling said the chief executive of Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust has given him "an absolutely clear assurance" that services would not be reconfigured while plans for the future of Epsom and St Helier hospitals remain uncertain.
Speaking to the Epsom Guardian this morning, he said: "I got an absolutely clear assurance that whilst the chief executive has got internal financial issues to address, they are not going to try and do major service reconfiguration.
"It wouldn’t make sense particularly because NHS London has already put forward plans to downgrade St Helier. It can’t do it from both.
"Take out both Epsom and St Helier’s maternity departments, you have four and a half thousand births with nowhere to go to."
Mr Grayling believes increasing the involvement of local GPs with the hospital could result in greater use of the "under-used" site.
He said: "We should be looking to get GPs more involved in the Epsom Hospital site with the possibility of putting a GP surgery there.
"There’s a clear divide these days in the health system between hospital doctors and what they do, and GPs and what they do, and part of the solution to Epsom’s challenges for the future is to bring the two more closely together.
"We need to do some out-of-the-box thinking about ways in which the financial gaps can be bridged and one way is to bring more GP services onto the Epsom site which is quite under-used.
"I am not convinced that it is not possible to have a viable stand-alone Epsom as part of a family of a bigger trust like Ashford and St Peter’s."
Last Thursday evening, Mr Grayling informed residents he would be contacting the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, about the future of Epsom Hospital - a move which led to claims of "hypocrisy".
As reported in the Sunday Mirror newspaper, shadow health minister Jamie Reed criticised Mr Grayling, and said: "This Government cut the NHS budget two years running to deal with the financial turmoil.
"But ministers don’t like this taste of their own medicine.
"Their rank hypocrisy leaves the Tories standing up for each other and not their country."
But Mr Grayling said the comments were "silly", considering NHS reforms had not yet been implemented.
He said: "The days when you can’t do something on behalf of your constituents because you’re a government minister would be a pretty sad day indeed in Parliament.
"The challenges over the financial situation at Epsom and St Helier are nothing to do with the current government and reforms - this is a problem that has been there for years."