Campaigners believe there are still plans to axe key hospital services after the General Election, despite Epsom and St Helier hospitals’ chief executive saying there was no need to "put out the placards".

A leading GP appeared to undermine chief executive Daniel Elkeles’ aim for the A&E, maternity and children’s departments to stay open on both sites for the next five years, declining to support his statement.

His refusal to support Epsom and St Helier’s plans came at the same time as a new announcement from the latest version of the long-running south west London NHS review, seen as threatening A&Es and maternity units.

FROM MARCH 26, 2015: Epsom and St Helier hospitals to begin process of becoming semi-independent foundation trust

Dr Chris Elliott, chief clinical officer of Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), one of the organisations behind the South West London Collaborative Commissioning (SWLCC) review, told BBC London News on Friday: "I can understand why he wants to make a statement that gives some support to the staff at what is a very good hospital.

"I cannot support that statement because we are not in a position to say whether that is the right thing or wrong thing at the present time."

In November 2013, Dr Elliott urged Surrey GPs to back SWLCC's predecessor, the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review, which aimed to downgrade St Helier Hospital.

Epsom Hospital, which was also recommended for downgrading under BSBV, was only removed from the process after Surrey Downs' GPs voted against its proposals.

Sutton CCG declined to say more about Dr Elliott's latest statement.

No new announcements have been made since last summer, but the six NHS organisations behind SWLCC published a statement last week.

It said: "Our position has not changed.

"We have put forward a strategy for the local NHS which makes clear our belief that a south west London wide solution will be needed to make sure local people have high quality, sustainable services.

"We are discussing with local trusts and others in south west London the best way to implement our strategy and meet the standards it sets.

"No site specific proposals have been developed yet."

Although Surrey Downs CCG, which covers Epsom Hospital, is not part of the SWLCC strategy, any implications for St Helier will have repercussions for Epsom.

Colin Crilly, of the Keep Our St Helier Hospital campaign, said: "Friday's mixed messages highlight our concerns are, and have been, valid.

"Daniel Elkeles said on Friday the A&E at both St Helier and Epsom hospitals will be safe for the next five years, and yet on the same day, Dr Chris Elliot of the Sutton CCG could not confirm this.

"The CCGs hold the purse-strings, and decide how busy/needed hospitals are.

"In other words, the CEO is not in a position to make such a claim."

Plans for a £21m redevelopment of Croydon University Hospital's A&E were approved by the NHS last week.

FROM NOVEMBER 5, 2013: Sutton health bosses urge Surrey GPs to back BSBV review proposals to downgrade St Helier Hospital

Asked if campaigners' worries were justified, Chris Grayling, Epsom's Conservative MP since 2001, said: "I don't have a very close insight into what's happening in south west London but I would question what the rationale would be behind embarking on another review of rationalisation of services as hospitals in south west London are overflowing."

He said Epsom and St Helier trust, which has had three chief executives in the last year, is "doing things which I argued for some years ago" but added: "whatever people may be saying we have got the potential in our area for more stability then we have had for some time.”

A spokesman for SWLCC said last May that Epsom and St Helier, Croydon, Kingston and St George's hospitals would have to identify £360m worth of savings over five years.