The leader of Merton Conservatives has defended Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond after Labour councillors accused him of "betraying" St Helier Hospital.

At a council meeting on Wednesday, April 2, a Labour motion attacking Mr Hammond for putting the future of St Helier Hospital at risk by voting in favour of Clause 119, was agreed by a council majority.

Mr Hammond has come under heavy scrutiny for voting in favour of the Care Bill clause, which gives the health secretary new powers to close hospitals, regardless of local opposition.

But Conservative councillors jumped to Mr Hammond's defence at the meeting, claiming the threat to St Helier Hospital is over.

Councillor Oonagh Moulton, leader of Merton Conservatives, said: "This administration knows full well that St Helier Hospital has been saved.

"Stephen Hammond voted in support of Clause 119 but this clause is not putting St Helier at risk. Why? Because the hospital is giving good care to its patients."

A sign heralding the promised £219m redevelopment of the hospital was recently taken down, raising concerns proposals to downgrade the hospital are still on the table.

Campaign group Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) is planning to march from Sutton to St Helier Hospital at the end of April, to raise awareness of the threat to the hospital they believe still exists.

Coun Stephen Alambritis, leader of Labour-led council, said: "To show his support for St Helier, Mr Hammond should insist that the money is still there and the building work should start forthwith. Instead he voted for clause 119.

"The NHS is a tax-payer funded service and making changes to the buildings and then closing them down is just not on."