Taxpayers will pay an 'outrageous' £6m for disputed BSBV healthcare review of Epsom and St Helier hospitals this year
It is going to cost taxpayers a further £6m this year for health bosses to continue with the widely disputed healthcare review threatening to close St Helier Hospital’s vital services.
The Better Services Better Value (BSBV) healthcare review has defended plans to spend a staggering £436,200 on "media, public and training" this year compared to £124 in their first year - claiming they do not spend money on PR.
St Helier Hospital
The figures, released by BSBV, reveal the spiralling costs of the review which has earmarked St Helier’s maternity, accident and emergency and paediatric department for closure.
During its first two years combined the review cost just over £6m however this financial year alone the review is proposing to cost £5,989,260.
Staff costs have risen from £75,667 in 2011-12 to a whopping £830,105 in 2013-14 while communications spending has more than doubled to £502,950 this year.
The snowballing costs have sparked a fierce reaction from campaigners with the council leader Ruth Dombey calling it an "outrageous waste", MP Paul Burstow saying lives were being put at risk and the Carshalton and Wallington Labour party saying it was a "slap in the face" for campaigners.
Tom Brake the MP for Carshalton and Wallington said: "What these figures highlight is that BSBV has failed the better value test abysmally.
"Millions have been spent on a review which hardly anyone supports locally. It recommends the closure of the A&E at St Helier which has just received the best rating anywhere in England Wales and Northern Ireland for treating emergency patients with hip fractures and St Helier’s nationally renowned neo-natal unit.
"The sooner BSBV is abandoned and the trust moves forward with plans to achieve financial trust status, the better."
A spokesperson for the review said: "The costs were always expected to increase as we approached consultation.
"The budget for 2013/14 was agreed at the start of the year and around a quarter of it has been spent to date. To put it in context, the cost of BSBV is less than 0.5 per cent of the annual NHS budget.
"The costs of the programme are in line with similar NHS service change programmes. Clinicians believe the proposals will deliver better, safer health services while saving upwards of £30m a year."
BSBV said their budget for "media, public and training" covers everything from advertising public meetings to Braille materials and monitoring the media and social media.
To see the total programme budget in full visit their website.
What the campaigners say:
The leader of Sutton Council, Ruth Dombey, said: “The whole process is a distraction from what is really needed – a proper discussion of the healthcare needs in south west London for generations to come."
Paul Burstow, the MP for Sutton and Cheam said: “This is taxpayers money being wasted and people's lives that are being put at risk.”
A spokeswoman for the Carshalton and Wallington Labour Party said: "We are appalled by the figures being reported on the costs of BSBV to the taxpayer so far."