Health minister Anna Soubry 'extremely disappointed' by £11.5m delayed health care review at St Helier hospital
A government health minister is said to be "extremely disappointed" over the "astronomical" cost of a healthcare review threatening to strip two hospitals of vital services.
MP for Wimbledon, Stephen Hammond, met with MP Anna Soubrey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, on Friday to express concerns over the Better Services Better Value Review (BSBV).
The review wants to centralise health services in south London by closing accident and emergency, maternity and children’s units at two hospitals with St Helier, Epsom and Croydon in the firing line.
The cost of the review was estimated at £4m when it started in 2011, but has since escalated to £11.5m.
Following the meeting Mr Hammond said: "The Minister was very much in listening mode and extremely receptive to our arguments.
"We made a strong case for St Helier and she has promised to write to the NHS raising our concerns about the lack of evidence for change, the stalled consultation and the astronomical costs of this flawed review."
Councillor Suzanne Evans, who also attended the meeting, said: "I think it is true to say she was extremely disappointed to hear how costs have racked up."
"It was good to have the opportunity to take local residents’ concerns straight to the Minister responsible for local hospitals, tell her just how strongly we feel about this, and explain precisely why we can’t afford to let an A&E or maternity unit close in SW London without seriously compromising patient care."
The meeting came on the same day that a "major incident" was declared at St Helier because it was so busy with accutely ill patients leaving campaigners furious that its services are facing closure.
Despite huge demand all services remained open with staff working extra hours to cope with the increase in patients.
A spokesperson for the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Thanks to the response from our staff and partner organisations, no vital services were adversely impacted throughout the incident.”