Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust faces handing over the UK’s largest hip and knee replacement centre to another trust to run, a leaked staff bulletin has revealed.
The Elective Orthopaedic Centre (EOC) based at Epsom Hospital is currently run in partnership with Kingston, Croydon and St George’s Hospitals and its income, after costs are taken out, is split between the four partners.
However, the Epsom and St Helier Trust is in charge of its day-to-day operation which includes overseeing its performance and quality of care.
The partnership board, made up of the four trusts, have agreed to assess whether the running of the EOC should be passed to another trust and have suggested Kingston Hospital.
The Epsom and St Helier Trust chief executive Matthew Hopkins said in a bulletin to staff: “Members of the partnership board felt this would allow a clearer split between the host and the physical location of the EOC, which, in turn, they believe could improve the way in which the centre is governed.”
Work is required to lay out all the factors involved in hosting the service.
This is expected to be completed by Christmas and if it is approved the partnership board have suggested that the hosting could move to Kingston from April 1, 2013.
The Epsom and St Helier Trust’s Executive Committee discussed the partnership board's proposal at a meeting on Wednesday and have raised several concerns – including how EOC patients will benefit from the change and the short timeline for undertaking the work.
They are also concerned that it will be seen as destabilising Epsom Hospital at a time when patients, local people and staff are concerned about the future of the site.
Mr Hopkins stressed that the EOC will remain at Epsom Hospital and will continue to treat as many patients as it does now.
He said: “I know that this news might concern some of our staff. However, I would like to stress that, should it go ahead, the partnership board's proposal will have little impact on the day-to-day lives of our staff, our organisation, or Epsom Hospital itself.
“Staff employed by the EOC will continue to work in the centre, but their contracts of employment would transfer to Kingston.
“However, this transfer would take place under Transfer of Undertaking and Protection of Employment legislation (TUPE), which requires consultation with trade unions and the staff affected, and ensures protection of an employee's terms and conditions.
“Should it go ahead, this proposal will not have any impact on the terms and conditions of employment for any staff who do not currently work in the EOC.
“In addition, the centre will still need to use (and will continue to pay for) a number of our services, from pathology to catering. So if you're used to working with the EOC, that won't change.”