paul at St Helier
On 9 May local GPs and other clinicians met to discuss the future of St Helier Hospital and the proposals put forward by the Better Service Better Value (BSBV) review. Very disappointingly, the Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to consult on the three proposals recommended by the BSBV review.
This is despite the clear opposition to these proposals that local campaigners and presented to the meeting.
The decision means that St Helier is at risk of becoming a “local hospital”, losing its A&E and maternity units and Epsom is also potentially losing its frontline services, becoming a centre for elective care.
The second option, but less preferred by BSBV, is Epsom becoming the local hospital with St Helier becoming the centre for elective care. The third option is St Helier continuing as an acute hospital with Epsom becoming the centre for elective care and Croydon University Hospital becoming the most downgraded.
But this is not a done deal.
These recommendations still need to be approved by the other Clinical Commissioning Groups in South West London before they will be subject to a public consultation.
We will continue to fight tooth and nail for the future of our local hospital, working with other local campaigners to plan how we can make sure the voice of the local community is heard.
We will be taking our campaign to the next level to ensure that NHS bosses can be in no doubt – we want to Save Our St Helier!


paul at St Helier

The BBC London news has reported tonight that, despite our efforts to date and the many flaws and criticisms of their proposals, the local NHS Better Services, Better Value (BSBV) team has decided to press ahead with recommending the closure of both St Helier and Epsom’s A&E and maternity units. 
This is an appalling decision that flies in the face of the facts. It is not the end of the matter. It is still not too late to stop these ill-conceived plans.
Next Wednesday (9th May) Sutton’s Clinicial Commissioning Group (CCG) will meet to consider whether it wants to consult on BSBVs proposals.  The meeting will start at 1pm at St Bedes Conference Centre, St Raphael’s Hospice, London Road, North Cheam.  This is not a public meeting, though it is a meeting held in public.  There will be a large number of residents attending the meeting to make a silent protest against BSBVs plans and send a powerful message to the GPs and other clinicians who sit on the CCG board. 
We are, with local MPs Paul Burstow and Tom Brake, urging as many other people as possible to write to their local GP to support St Helier. 
Despite St Helier being the best performing hospital in SW London, today’s quality has been discounted by BSBV in favour of a hope that the quality of the rest will improve in the future.  You can compare the performance of our local hospitals by following this link:
BSBV assumes that as many as six out of ten people who use A&E do not need to be there.  Even if that were true, and it is not, there are no credible costed plans to deliver the expansion in community health and GP services necessary to reverse the rising demand for A&E.
BSBV claim that their proposals are necessary to improve patient safety.  They want to have more consultants on hand, which is a good idea.  But rather than taking the steps necessary to recruit them, they want to embark on a £350 million building programme to expand the remaining hospitals.  They do not have any guarantees that this money will be available from the Treasury and no idea what they will do if it is not provided.
Rather than looking for the simplest, lowest cost way of delivering improved patient safety they are set on a disruptive, highly complex and risky enterprise.
Please write to your GP and urge them to lobby the CCG to drop the plans and opt for a less expensive and less risky alternative.  Ask them to join with you and other residents in supporting our local A&E and maternity units.





Our gritting lorries are prepared

All the evidence is that Sutton’s free grit scheme has been, for a third year, a massive success.


Residents of South Sutton Ward have been able to obtain a supply of free grit for the third year running.

Many households took up the offer of 10kg of grit to use on footpaths, pavements or roads in front of their homes, preparing for the cold weather predicted to come before the end of the year. Many householders also collected free grit for elderly neighbours and residents who do not have a car.

The Council successfully pioneered the scheme , which has been copied by other authorities around the country. In previous years the Council gave out grit to more than 10,000 residents.

The free grit is the most practical way of helping residents, though there are in addition over 40 grit bins in our Ward and the Council has a number of gritting lorries fully equipped and ready to hit the roads if a cold snap makes conditions difficult. 

Following an analysis of take up after the two weekends that he grit was on offer, there was a further weekend when grit was available.

The grit bins are everywhere


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.


Where’s the money gone?

Heather is playing a major role on a newly-created committee probing the massive hole in NHS Croydon’s finances. She is determined to find out what mistakes were made, who was at fault and what impact it will have on future healthcare in south west London.

The South West London Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on NHS Croydon finances met for the first time on 6 September and set itself the task of answering three crucial questions.

First, how was it that on 8 June 2011 the year’s accounts were signed off with a £5.54million surplus, yet when the same books were re-examined a year later they revealed a £22.7million overspend?

Second, why were officers – charged with managing a huge and vital job – not properly monitored, and were they given the right tools to do the job?

And, third, why in July 2012 did the South West London Cluster Board decide to try to cover up the huge deficit as a ‘prior period adjustment’?

Heather, one of two Sutton councillors sitting on the committee, said: “It is vital that we reach the bottom of this and that we do that quickly.

“If this is the sort of financial mismanagement we see from NHS bosses how can we be sure that the NHS BSBV team, which is after all proposing a multi-million pound plan which would close vital parts of St Helier Hospital, be able to run such a huge scheme successfully? Their track record is simply dreadful.”

Some observers believe the problems started in April 2010 when NHS Croydon was given the added responsibility of hosting London Specialised Commissioning Group. It is thought that running the £800million project may have stretched the resources of officers beyond their ability to cope.

The committee, which is comprised of councillors from Sutton, Richmond, Croydon, Merton, Wandsworth and Kingston, meet again on 24 September. It will call a number of witnesses including Ann Radmore, Chief Executive of NHS South West London.

Ms Radmore was appointed Sector Chief Executive for South West London in 2009 and led the establishment of the SWL Cluster in early 2010.

Another witness will be Dr Peter Brambleby, who was Croydon’s Director of Public Health from March 2010 to February 2012. On 6 July he blew the whistle on NHS London’s decision on 28 June to try to hide the deficit as a ‘prior period adjustment’ which, despite Dr Brambleby’s revelation, the South West London Cluster tried to repeat on 26 July.

Heather added: “Key personnel involved in the Better Service Better Value team planning the future of healthcare in south west London are involved in this Croydon mess. What confidence can we have in their plans for St Helier?”


The London Ambulance Service has revealed alarming journey time figures to Sutton Councillors.

[ Heather, Paul Burstow MP and Richard demonstrating their opposition to the threatened closure of of the Accident and Emergency Department, outside St. Helier hospital ]

Alarming figures from London Ambulance Service stunned Councillors at the special meeting, attended by Heather, of Sutton Council’s Scrutiny Committee, a meeting focusing on St Helier Hospital, on Monday June 11.

Bill Arkell, Operations Manager for Sutton and Streatham, shocked the meeting by revealing that journey times for emergency patients will more than double if St Helier’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) ward is closed.

Currently, the average journey time to St Helier is 8.5 minutes. Under the new proposals that will soar to 14-15 minutes to St George’s in Tooting, 16-17 minutes to Kingston and up to 20 minutes to Croydon Hospital.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Mary Burstow, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, said: “These are truly alarming figures. Report after report has shown that the quicker people get treatment the better the outcome. Doubling journey times can only put Sutton residents at greater risk.”

The well-attended meeting also heard that turnaround time – how long it takes from an ambulance arriving at a hospital to being ready to go on another call – is 15 minutes or less on average at St. Helier Hospital, again half the time of neighbouring hospitals.

Councillor Burstow added: “In light of these figures, it is absolutely astonishing that Better Services Better Value (BSBV) [the NHS body that recommended closure of St. Helier’s Accident and Emergency Department] didn’t bother to ask seek wider views and opinions.”

The BSBV panel last month recommended that St Helier Hospital’s A&E, maternity and children’s wards should be closed – leaving St George’s, Kingston and Croydon to deal with the patients.

St Helier would instead become a centre for planned operations.

Age UK Sutton, which represents around 27,000 people – and Sutton Carers – which has 4,500 registered members looking after thousands of people – also told the meeting that they had also not been consulted before BSBV made its recommendations.

In robust exchanges between councillors and Rachel Tyndall, BSBV Senior Responsible Officer, and Mike Bailey, Acute Medical Director for BSBV, Sutton Council Leader Ruth Dombey referred to previous threats to St Helier saying: “We have been through years of uncertainty, so we are more than a little cynical.”

Councillor Dombey added: “Under the proposals St Helier would become the site for elective surgery for patients from Ham to New Addington.

“Is there any guarantee they would come? What about the transport issues? Where would they park when they got here?”

During the meeting it was revealed that BSBV’s recommendation supposes that between 2013 when the decision is due to be made and 2017 when it should be implemented, up to 50% of A&E patients would be persuaded to seek treatment in the community instead of going to hospital.

Click here to sign our petition organised by local LibDems, on the website of Paul Burstow. [Click on the word “petition”]

Resident served with Sutton’s first ‘Acceptable Behaviour Contract’

A resident has been served with Sutton’s first ‘Acceptable Behaviour Contract’ for the alarm and distress caused to her neighbours by her dogs.

The 24-year-old female dog owner, who lives in a block of flats in Langley Park Road, Sutton, allowed her two Staffordshire Bull Terriers called ‘Roxy’ and ‘Governor’ to:

  • Run out of control off the lead
  • Jump up and intimidate residents
  • Carry on barking for long periods

In addition, she also repeatedly failed to clear up after her pets.

Police decided to take formal action following an incident on Friday 30th March when her dogs ran out of their home in pursuit of a man making a delivery in Langley Park Road. The man was forced to run and jump onto a vehicle to avoid being bitten.

As a result the resident was sent a letter on the 13th April advising that this incident had come to the attention of police. A second letter was sent on 2nd July after her dogs had continued to behave in an unacceptable way.

This second letter included an Acceptable Behaviour Contract – a voluntary agreement between the resident and Sutton Council, the Met Police in Sutton and London and Quadrant Housing Trust – the resident’s landlord.

The contract only named one of her dogs – Governor – as she had given up Roxy at around this time. The conditions in the agreement include:

  • The dog being kept on a lead no longer than three metres in a public place including Langley Park Road, public footpaths and roads within Sutton borough
  • Clearing up after her dog
  • Regularly exercising her dog

Failure to comply with the agreement may result in an Anti-Social Behaviour Order being obtained to stop the resident causing harassment, alarm or distress and the tenancy agreement being reviewed and even revoked.

The action is part of borough’s Local Environmental Awareness of Dogs (LEAD) initiative to make owners of all breeds of dog aware of their responsibilities to their pet and the wider community.

Since August 2011 a total of 27 letters have been sent to residents whose dogs have come to the notice of police.

PC Heath Keogh, of Sutton Police station, who is co-ordinating the LEAD initiative for the borough, said: “Whilst we want to work with residents to reduce the nuisance and concerns caused by their pets, we are equally determined that we will take whatever action we need to make sure that this happens in reality.

“The bottom line for Sutton residents is a breach of an ASBO which could result in five years jail or a fine or both, and a possession order leading to a tenant’s eviction, for those in rented accommodation.”

The LEAD initiative was prompted by the fatal dog attack in Demesne Road, Wallington, on 23 December 2010, when a 52-year-old woman died after being attacked by a dog.


We were recently approached by residents in Worcester Road concerning the licence application to re-open the former “Academy” public house in Grove Road as a nightclub. They were concerned at a likely impact on late night noise problems in the area.

Following discussions with residents, Richard submitted representations on the prevention of public nuisance to Sutton’s Licensing Committee, and spoke at the public hearing held on 28 March.

He pointed out that it would be a matter of concern for premises so close to many residential properties to be offering music, dancing, films and sale of alcohol (for consumption on and off the premises) until 4.30am, seven nights a week, and then – after a break of just a few hours – starting again at 9.00am.  The application, if approved, would lead to an unacceptable degree of public nuisance, particularly due to noise from people coming away from the premises into neighbouring streets in the early hours of the morning.

Although the premises are not in Sutton South Ward, some of the people coming away from the club in the early hours would walk through our Ward. Concerns had been raised by the police about disturbance and noise late at night, drunken people walking home, alcohol-related brawls and anti-social behaviour. The application should be refused. 

We are pleased say that the application was refused, the Committee citing in particular problems with noise, community impact and alcohol-related crime.


A panel established under the NHS’s Better Services Better Value review has recommended that St Helier should become the centre for planned surgery in South West London, but losing its Accident & Emergency (A & E) and maternity units.

The review was initiated by the local NHS not by the Department of Health. Decisions about healthcare are taken by the local NHS organisation not Ministers. In the event that the final decision taken was challenged it could be referred to the Secretary of State for Health for a final decision.

As local Councillors who have used the services of St. Helier hospital, we oppose this decision. Heather has already been particularly active in opposing it as a member of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for south west London. On 15 May we joined our MP Paul Burstow in a demonstration against the decision at St. Helier hospital (in the photo above you can see Heather, Paul and Richard in front of the hospital).

Paul Burstow, has raised serious concerns about the way in which the Better Services Better Value review, and the talks about a merger with St Georges, have been handled. Treated as completely separate discussions, in fact they directly impacted on each other.

At this point no final decisions have been taken. Whilst important, the panel’s recommendations are not binding and mark the beginning of a process which will include a public consultation, expected in early autumn.

Local LibDems have previously fought to save St Helier and in 2010 secured £219m to refurbish and rebuild the hospital.

Paul Burstow comments:

“This is a flawed conclusion from a flawed process. There is still a lot of water to flow under the bridge before final decisions are made.

The panel have ignored the pressure on all the A&Es and maternity units in south west London.

A cloud has gathered over St Helier but I believe we can mount a successful challenge to the assumptions that have led the panel to this conclusion.

We have saved St Helier before, and we will fight to do so again.”

Click here to sign our petition organised by local LibDems, on the website of Paul Burstow. [Click on the word “petition”]


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Heather visited the Viridor Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in Lakeland near Sough yesterday, 29th February, with Councillor Mary Burstow.

Their aim was to observe at first hand the operation of an ERF similar to that proposed on land currently used as the Beddington landfill site.  This is particularly important given their roles as Vice Chair and Chair of Sutton’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee.

For  more information on future plans for the Beddington site visit: