Campaigners call for Merton GP ballot on proposals to strip St Helier of services
Campaigners are calling for a ballot of Merton’s GPs before a public consultation runs on plans to strip Epsom and St Helier Hospitals of vital services.
The Better Services Better Value review (BSBV) is proposing to close maternity, accident and emergency and children’s wards at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals as part of a radical shake up of healthcare provision in south west London.
A public consultation on the plans is set to run by the end of the year with Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Surrey Downs, Sutton and Wandsworth all affected.
All seven clinical commissioning groups were given an option to host an open ballot of GPs as part of the process but only Sutton has done so with GPs voting to back the plans.
Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group (SDCCG) this week announced it would be holding a secret ballot of its GPs to determine the level of support for BSBV with its chief officer, Miles Freeman, saying it was the "right and proper" thing to do.
Campaigners in Merton are now calling for a similar ballot of Merton GPs.
One campaigner, Sandra Ash, from Morden said: "I do not believe that it is safe to remove these services form such a large population and offer St Georges, Tooting, which is too far away and already overstretched, as the only alternative.
"Epsom (Surrey Downs) Clinical Commissioning Group, has decided to ask their GPs to vote on this issue and the result is due out by the end of the week.
"They say that this could be decisive for the whole process.
"I believe that Merton CCG should also have a vote of all GPs on this crucial matter."
Dr Howard Freeman, local GP and chair of Merton CCG said they would be awaiting the result of the vote by Surrey Downs with interest and that engagement with GPs but did not make any suggestion that they would be called in for a ballot
He said: "Should Surrey Downs decide not to continue with BSBV, Merton CCG will work with our members, with our local acute trusts and with the other south west London CCGs, to decide the next steps.
"The six south west London CCGs are also planning to respond collectively to the Call to Action by refreshing the BSBV programme, to look again at proposals for the hospitals in south west London.
"This will also mean all local CCGs continuing to work closely with Surrey Downs CCG.
"Should Surrey Downs GPs vote in support of BSBV, we will ensure the seven CCGs meet in common as soon as possible."