Merton Labour has long held that vital services at St Helier Hospital must remain on site for the benefit of residents from the whole of Merton. We continue to oppose the decision to close the emergency department, maternity services and children’s in patient services. Unfortunately, this position is not shared by Merton Conservatives who have long supported the downgrading of St Helier Hospital. As Leader of the London Borough of Merton, I have written to the Department of Health and Social Care formally asking them to undertake a re-assessment of the proposals to take account of the pressures now faced by both St George’s and St Helier hospitals, and the impact this decision will have on residents.
Losing acute services will inevitably be felt at St George’s where many residents would access acute services such as Accident and Emergency, if as planned, services are removed from St Helier. The local NHS have consistently described the pressures on St George’s over the most recent winter period as unprecedented. Going into the winter period we know St George’s was already struggling to cope with local demand as well as being one of only four trauma centres covering the whole of London. While bed occupancy has generally remained steady for the first nine months of 2022/23, we are aware that pressure on emergency department provision has increased significantly. In contrast, bed occupancy levels at Epsom & St Helier hospitals has continued to increase during 2022/23. This increasing bed occupancy, combined with the increasing pressures on the front door at St George’s, gives us significant concerns that the capacity modelling which underpinned the original decision to close services at St Helier is no longer fit for purpose.
Merton Labour will continue to oppose the Conservative backed plans to downgrade St Helier Hospital and call on the Government to provide the capital funding to invest in the current site.
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Ross Garrod, Leader of Merton Council