You may have seen that over the weekend the Government announced a multi-billion pound programme of hospital upgrades and modernisation around the country over the next few years. As part of the announcement it said that around £500 million would be allocated to the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust to modernise our local hospitals.
Clearly this is good news for us locally, as it will mean state-of-the-art modern facilities for patients in this area. But it does have potential implications for the future of Epsom Hospital.
As I have mentioned in previous bulletins locally, the NHS leadership in South West London and Surrey has decided that it wants to build a new specialist hospital to provide all the more complex treatments for our area. It has done a substantial amount of feasibility work, and although it has been clear that it has not chosen between Epsom, St Helier and the old Sutton Hospital site as a location for the proposed centre, its preference is to create a new centre at Sutton. This would be integrated with the Royal Marsden Hospital, and would provide an emergency centre for serious conditions as well as a leading facility for all aspects of cancer treatment.
For those who do not know the Sutton site, it is at Belmont, just beyond the roundabout at the end of the dual carriageway section of the A217 which runs north from the Banstead roundabout.
I will continue to argue that the new facility should be at Epsom, which is at the centre of the geographic area served by the Trust. I will strongly oppose moving services to St Helier, as I have done many times over the past eighteen years whenever such a move has been proposed.
But I also want to get your opinions about the Sutton alternative, which does clearly have benefits.
I should say that in all circumstances Epsom Hospital will remain open, and wherever the new acute unit is sited, Epsom will retain most of its existing services. Part of the new money will be used to modernise the Epsom site, and the existing buildings are likely to become a centre for treating the frail elderly, potentially with an increase to the number of beds on the site.
So this debate is not about whether Epsom will close. That is not going to happen. But it could be about whether some of the high-end services move to a new centre at Sutton alongside the Marsden.
A major Government investment in hospital services locally is clearly good news for this area and will improve patient care. But it does also beg questions for us about how and where it is done.
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. Please email me at [email protected] to let me know what you think.