Taxpayers’ will spend £11.5m on a delayed healthcare review which is threatening to strip two hospitals of vital services.
The Better Services Better Value Healthcare Review (BSBV) wants to centralise health services in south London by closing accident and emergency, maternity and children’s units at two hospitals with St Helier, Epsom and Croydon firmly in the firing line.
So far £5.5m has been spent on the review which is now being run for a second time to include Epsom Hospital after its planned merger with Ashford and St Peter's collapsed.
A further cost of £6m has been projected which includes a three month public consultation.
Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, said: It's just extraordinary that these organisations can spend taxpayers’ money with gay abandon at a time when financial restraint is important and when people have very real needs.
"At a time when more babies are being delivered and people are living longer the NHS is spending £11.5m on a project that nobody supports.
"Where are the 90,000 people who went to St Helier's A&E last year going to go if it closes, or the 6,000 mothers who have gave birth there?
"It just feels like there is a complete and utter lack of any serious leadership."
Councillor Suzanne Evans, shadow cabinet member for health and older people, said: "I think it is a criminal waste of public money.
"I just can't believe that they have wasted this much money in a time when every family in his country is having to make cut backs and they are chucking £11m down the drain.
The first BSBV review was carried out by 60 clinicians last year and resulted in St Helier’s services being earmarked for closure, however this time an "expert panel" made up of only eight people will score the options and their scores reviewed by 21 patient representatives, GPs and clinicians.
The review suffered another setback last week after a crucial recommendation on which hospitals should lose vital services and be put forward for public consultation was postponed until spring.
Instead, BSBV said they need more time to engage with community groups before making a recommendation.
A spokesperson for BSBV said: "The cost to date is about £5.5m, the projected future cost, including a three-month public consultation, is just under £6m.
"To put the total figure of £11.5m in context, it equates to 0.15 per cent each year of the annual healthcare budget, which is £2.8 billion.
"Local clinicians believe it is money we need to spend so that we can deliver better, safer services that are sustainable in the long term."