4:40pm Monday 18th February 2013
By Lauren May
Councillors, MPs and residents have renewed calls to halt a review which could see St Helier and Epsom Hospital stripped of vital services ahead of a crunch meeting with health bosses.
Clinicial working groups from the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review are expected to announce their recommendations on Thursday, February 21, as to which which hospitals they think should lose it's A&E, maternity and children's units.
Both St Helier and Epsom Hospital are in the firing line and are likely to be stripped of vital services.
This week there were renewed calls for the process to be brought to a halt after claims that there had been deliberate attempts to exclude clinicians, who were opposed to the plans, from a second Better Services Better Value Review (BSBV).
In the letter sent to the chief executive of the Epsom and St Helier Trust Matthew Hopkins, three Epsom Hospital clinicians, and members of the BSBV Clinical Working Groups, said there had been deliberate attempts to exclude clinicians opposed to the downgrading of hospitals from the review.
Councillor Suzanne Evans, shadow health spokesperson for the Merton Conservatives, said: "How can the public have any confidence in the findings of this review?
"We have said all along that BSBV is flawed at many levels; to try and prevent medics from highlighting those flaws is completely unacceptable.
"It is time to call a halt to the whole thing.
"Local clinicians must have their views heard and there must be strong evidence to show such dramatic changes as those proposed will be in the best interests of residents."
"BSBV has failed on both counts; it’s time for it to stop before any more taxpayers’ money is wasted.”
She also criticised the speed at which the second review has been pushed through.
Last week three hundred residents packed a committee room at the House of Commons to talk about their concerns at a public meeting hosted by Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden.
She said: "It just goes to show how strongly people feel about what’s going on that 300 people came all the way up to London on a cold night and that not everyone could get in to one of the biggest rooms in Parliament.
"We all feel badly let down.
"This process is a shambles.
"The Government and local managers might want to save hundreds of millions of pounds from our NHS, but at a time when more people need A&E treatment and more babies are being born, you can’t start shutting units like this.
"Where are the 90,000 patients who went to St Helier’s A&E going to go, or the thousands of babies?"
Last year the first BSBV review was carried out by 60 clinicians at a cost of £2m to the taxpayer which resulted in St Helier’s A& E and maternity ward being earmarked for closure.
The review is now being carried out for a second time to include Epsom Hospital after its planned merger with Ashford and St Peters collapsed.
However this time an "expert panel" made up of only seven or eight people will score the options and their scores reviewed by 21 patient representatives, GPs and clinicians.
BSBV is expected to make its recommendations on which hospitals should lose its services to the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts on February 20, and will publicly announce which option will go forward for public consultation on Thursday, February 21.
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