A healthcare review that threatens to strip at least two hospitals of vital services has been postponed at the last minute for a second time.
The fate of our hospitals was to be decided behind closed doors at a crunch meeting between health bosses yesterday when clinicians from the Better Services Better Value review (BSBV) were expected to recommend which two South West London hospitals should lose their
accident and emergency, maternity unit and children’s wards.
But in a shock development on Tuesday evening, the Wimbledon Guardian learned the
recommendation would be postponed for a second time until at least March.
It comes after mounting pressure on BSBV with representatives from Sutton, Surrey, Epsom and Ewell, and Merton Councils calling for the review to be halted.
Despite the stay of execution Epsom, St Helier and Croydon Hospitals remain in the firing line, with all three still under threat of being downgraded.
The first BSBV review was carried out by 60 clinicians at a cost of £2m to the taxpayer and resulted in St Helier’s A&E and maternity unit being earmarked for closure.
Public consultation on the plans was postponed in November at the last minute after clinicians from Surrey raised concerns when Epsom hospital became included in proposals after its planned merger with Ashford and St Peter’s collapsed.
A slimdown panel of eight “experts” was expected to make their recommendation yesterday, with their scores on 10 options reviewed by 21 patient representatives, GPs and clinicians.
Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, will meet with Anna Soubry, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, next week to discuss the process.
He said: “I hope that if there is any delay it means they are looking at the case to preserve St Helier.
“If the delay is for any other reason that would be very disappointing.
“Clearly the issue will be if this is being delayed because they are considering a matter of substance or a problem with the process itself.”
Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham Morden, said: “It hardly fills you with confidence and makes you feel like they have no idea what they are doing.
“I’m delighted that they have postponed it because I think what they are trying to do is impossible, but I’m just a bit worried that no one seems to be in charge of the NHS locally.
“It’s mind boggling the amount of money that’s been wasted on this.
“The more I think about it the more I think we need a bit of democracy in the NHS for people to be publically accountable and then maybe they would be more responsible for taxpayers’ money.”