A healthcare trust which has been seen as a potential lifeline for Epsom Hospital has announced it is merging with another hospital in Guildford.
It was revealed last week that Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust (ASP) will merge with the Royal Surrey County Hospital - a plan which should save £10-20million.
Proposed merger talks between ASP and Epsom Hospital were progressing when, in October 2012, the talks collapsed because NHS London said no financially viable plan for the future of Epsom Hospital, as part of the merged trust, could be developed.
The shock decision was a huge blow to residents, patients and hospital staff who backed the merger as the best way of ensuring Epsom Hospital’s future.
Shortly after, Epsom was brought into the now-defunct Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review of South West London hospitals.
But even following the collapse of merger talks, Epsom Hospital said it was still in discussion with ASP about ways in which they could work together in the future.
On the new merger announcement, a spokeswoman for Epsom and St Helier hospital trust said: "We are always pleased to see local hospitals working closely together for the benefit of patients, and look forward to working with the organisations as they move towards a merger.
"Earlier this year, we - like all other NHS trusts across the country - began developing detailed plans about how our trust can continue to provide high quality care in an affordable, efficient way.
"This work is still underway and in June this year we are expecting to see the Five Year Strategy from our commissioners, including Surrey Downs.
"These strategies will give us a very clear idea of the future direction of local healthcare services and the important role we will play in delivering that vision, including how GPs, social care workers, district nurses and hospitals will work better together.
"We will work with our commissioners over the coming months to contribute to these plans.
"In the meantime, we are absolutely committed to working as one trust and providing our patients with the high level of care they expect from our hospitals and staff."
Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group said there are no plans to split Epsom and St Helier hospitals at present.
She said: "We know Epsom Hospital plays an important role in delivering healthcare for local people.
"We are working with Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust to secure a clinically and financially sustainable future for the hospitals."
Epsom health campaigner Jane Race said: "The merger of Ashford and St Peter's and Royal Surrey Hospital does not affect Epsom Hospital.
"Ashford and St Peter's Hospital would have been too far for our patients to travel.
"SDCCG and Epsom and St Helier Trust should implement the expansion of Epsom Hospital.
"Epsom General Hospital has excellent facilities and could cater for more acute work on the site, which would be of great benefit to local residents.
"This could take place whether or not Epsom and St Helier achieve foundation trust status in the future."
Do you think the merger of Ashford and St Peter's with the Royal Surrey County hospital is a blow for Epsom Hospital? Contact Hardeep Matharu on the newsdesk by emailing email@example.com.