Epsom and St Helier trust to close Sutton Hospital two years early
The Epsom and St Helier trust is proposing to close Sutton hospital two years ahead of plan - but has said it will not affect the £219m redevelopment of St Helier Hospital.
Sutton hospital is half empty but treats about 1,500 patients a week, has around 200 members of staff, day surgery and an eye unit.
The trust intended to move these services out of Sutton hospital in 2017-18 after using it to temporarily house services displaced from St Helier hospital - which was supposed to be undergoing a £219m redevelopment as approved by the government in 2010.
However the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) healthcare review, widely expected to recommend the downgrade of both Epsom and St Helier hospitals, has severly delayed St Helier's redevelopment because of the uncertainty surrounding what services will be based there.
The announcement of the premature closure of Sutton hospital has alarmed campaigners with Tom Brake, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington, contacting the trust to seek assurances that it will not create any new obstacles for the rebuild of St Helier.
Paul Burstow the MP for Sutton and Cheam said: "There is no doubt that BSBV has caused huge uncertainty for the team at St Helier.
"Consolidating services on fewer sites was always part of the plan (for the £219m redevelopment) and bringing it forward in this way is a sign that St Helier is determined to shape events rather just be buffeted by them."
The trust is proposing to move out of Sutton Hospital within a year to eighteen months and eventually sell the site - although it is not known when that will be.
It is expected the trust could save at least £3.6m a year by moving out of Sutton; helping them in their fight their deficit - which was £12.1m at the end of last year.
The trust's chief executive, Matthew Hopkins, said as part of the redevelopment of St Helier Hospital there were other options open to the trust including making better use of St Helier an Epsom hospitals or using other facilities in the local area.
He added: "Moreover, this new plan is about moving off the site to gain the advantage of consolidation and not having to pay capital charges. As such, we would still own the Sutton Hospital site and, therefore, could use it for the decant if the other options weren't possible."
When asked for reassurances on the £219m promised to St Helier a Department for Health spokesman said it was giving full consideration to the plans and a decision will be made in due course.
A spokesman for the BSBV review said the services that are at St Helier Hospital in the future will depend on the outcome of the BSBV review.
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