Future of Epsom Hospital in hands of GPs, says MP Chris Grayling
Epsom’s MP believes the future of the threatened Epsom Hospital is now in the hands of the area’s doctors after the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review was halted for a second time last week.
Chris Grayling said he is "glad" no recommendations were made by the BSBV team on which two hospitals out of Epsom, St Helier, Croydon, Kingston and St George’s should lose their accident and emergency (A&E), maternity and children’s departments.
He said will be holding a summit meeting in the next few days with representatives from the other councils and local health bodies to "discuss what we do next within Surrey" and believes the GP commissioning groups for the area, which are due to start work on April 1, now hold the bargaining power.
He said: "BSBV was a flawed and inadequate process and they were not in a position to take decisions about healthcare in Surrey.
"It’s very important that Surrey starts to develop a response as to what we think should happen for Epsom instead of the BSBV process.
"The next stage is for us is to get the perspective of the GP commissioning groups.
"The difficulty in our area is Epsom and St Helier hospitals are in one trust.
"We are locked into London through St Helier and through a rather botched decision to insert Epsom into a process which was clearly well-developed, which was a massive misjudgement.
"Now, local doctors need to decide what services they want locally, and there are divided opinions.
"But most of the doctors I have heard from are saying they want to retain most services in Epsom, although they are not saying they want no change.
"The GPs don’t have to accept what is happening and what I would like to see happen is for them to come up with a clear plan of what services they want in our community.
"Once we understand their clear commissioning intentions we can collectively have a discussion about what the future of Epsom looks like."
But Miles Freeman, chief officer at Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group, said it would continue to work with within the BSBV programme.
He said: "We believe there is a real opportunity to improve care for local people and we continue to work with colleagues through the BSBV programme to find the right solution for local patients and for Epsom.
"A number of proposals have emerged as a result of the work that has happened so far - but nothing has been decided and these are only possible proposals at this stage.
"At the programme board last week we talked about progress to date and some additional areas of work that we feel are needed to further develop these proposals.
"Only once this work is completed will we be able to fully understand what they potentially mean for our patients.
"We understand the current uncertainty is worrying for local people and following this further work we will be encouraging people to tell us what they think as part of a three month public consultation later in the year."