Health campaigners have welcomed Merton Council’s opposition to the potential closure of an accident and emergency department ahead of a consultation on plans to reshape health provision in south west London.
Council leader Stephen Alambritis spoke out against the South West London Five Year Forward Plan, which campaigners from Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) fear outlines plans for reducing the number of acute hospitals in the area from five to four, or even three.
A spokesperson for the NHS in south west London said the south west London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) does not make any proposals for specific hospitals and that there are currently no plans to change any of the hospital sites in south west London.
But KOSHH campaigners (pictured above) fear St Helier Hospital – in Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, which serves patients from across Sutton and Merton – could be closed or downgraded. The STP states: "Its 1930s structure prevents it ever being made compliant with modern standards for safe and high quality healthcare."
The South West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is holding a consultation event later this month, and leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis has urged residents to oppose any potential closure.
Cllr Alambritis (pictured above) said: “Merton Council could not be clearer in our opposition to any closure of services at St Helier Hospital, but without the support of residents that will not be enough.
“We need people to join us at this meeting to stand up for St Helier and say no to closure of the A&E.
“We will fight any government plans to destroy our precious local hospitals with all our might, and we need your help.”
The government is asking all local NHS managers to produce draft Sustainability and Transformation Plans and reorganise local health services.
The draft STP for Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth makes clear that St Helier Hospital’s A&E and maternity units could close, a Merton Council spokesperson stated – a claim supported by KOSHH.
St Helier Hospital in Wrythe Lane, Carshalton
A spokesperson for the NHS in south west London said: “The STP isn’t a blueprint for south west London - it contains a range of proposals, which are at different stages of development.
“There will not be a one size fits all approach as different boroughs have different needs. Instead, detailed plans will be developed locally by health providers, local authorities and primary care working together across south west London in local transformation boards.
“It is important to note that no decisions have been made and our plans will continue to develop and we will involve local people in developing them.”
A KOSHH spokeswoman said: “We are a little concerned that (Cllr Alambritis’) announcement appears to confine itself to opposing the closure of one or more of the A&E Units in SW London.
“They are looking to cut the number of A&E Units, Full Maternity Units, Children's Departments, Intensive Care Units, Acute Medicine, and Emergency Surgery Departments.
“We are pleased that Merton Council has declared its opposition to the plans to close one or two of our local A&E departments, and urge all SW London Boroughs to reject the SW London Sustainability and Transformation Plan in its entirety.”
The South West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is holding a consultation event on Tuesday 25 April, 6pm – 9pm at the Everyday Church in Wimbledon.