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A hospital leader is being protected by security guards after being threatened with physical violence.

The person, who is a member of the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS trust board, is escorted by the guards around the hospital and to and from their car.

The board member concerned has been carrying an attack alarm and the trust is working with the police.

It is understood that the threat arrived in an anonymous, handwritten letter.

The issue came into the public spotlight at the board meeting at Epsom Hospital on Friday, November 9, where a security guard waited outside and one plain-clothed guard sat among the public. 

Present at the meeting was the trust's chief executive Matthew Hopkins and a number of other board members. Mr Hopkins is not believed to be the person affected although the hospital refused to reveal who is under threat.

Emotions at the meeting ran high in the wake of the collapse of Epsom’s merger with Ashford and St Peter’s in Surrey and controversy over the use of Liverpool End of Life Pathway.

A spokeswoman for the Epsom and St Helier University Hospital’s Trust said: "We take the safety of our staff very seriously, and will not hesitate to act if that is ever called in to doubt.

"An anonymous threat was made to one of the senior management team recently, which prompted us to ensure that extra security staff were on hand at Friday’s trust board meeting, which is open to all members of the public.

"The additional security presence was in no way linked to the matters being discussed at the meeting - such as the de-merger of Epsom Hospital.

"We are currently working with the police about this matter and will not comment further."