Local campaigners have won a victory in the ongoing battle to save St Helier Hospital.
Liberal Democrat campaigners are celebrating the announcement that the immediate threat to St Helier Hospital’s Accident and Emergency, maternity and children’s wards has passed – although the future remains very uncertain.
The Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review, which in May recommended the cuts to these hospital services, has now recommended delaying going out to consultation on the plans saying, ‘This is because NHS Surrey wish to more fully understand the impact of BSBV on their residents who use NHS services in south west London, and implications for the NHS in Surrey, before public consultation begins.
‘This means that the BSBV programme and NHS Surrey now need more time to carry out further detailed analysis of the impact of the proposals.’
In May, BSBV recommended that St George’s, Croydon and Kingston hospitals remain as they are while St Helier should lose these crucial services, and instead become a centre for planned surgery across south west London.
The Liberal Democrat campaign to save St Helier immediately swung into action and months of effort reached a climax on 8 September when a Fun Day outside the hospital attracted protesters from across the area, who presented petitions carrying thousands of names to health service representatives.
The proposals were due to go out to a three-month consultation period at the beginning of October and we were preparing to continue the fight.
Heather Honour is one of two Sutton Councillors sitting on the pan-South West London committee investigating the proposals.
She said: “From the start we have made it clear that this was a deeply flawed process. What a pity that so much taxpayers’ money has been wasted by the BSBV team before they came to their senses.”
Councillor Mary Burstow, Chair of Sutton’s Scrutiny Committee, said: “Of course this is a reason to celebrate, but now we must work to secure the future of St Helier Hospital for generations of Sutton residents to come.
“This is now a real opportunity for residents, politicians and medical staff to work out exactly how we want to see healthcare delivered in years to come.
“And it is crucial that that discussion covers the entire capital. London’s health services need to be looked at as a whole and decisions need to be reached that meet the needs of all Londoners.”
However, the uncertainty remains for hospital staff and patients, who are still unclear about what the future holds.