Surrey consultation holds up controversial BSBV review of Epsom and St Helier hospitals
Consultation with doctors in the Epsom area is the only thing now holding up progress on a controversial hospital healthcare review which could see Epsom Hospital lose its acute services.
The Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review was halted in June "until after the summer".
At the time, BSBV said that it had been asked to look again at the finances of all the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the areas involved.
But, the NHS body said, but that the deficit of Croydon CCG was one of the main concerns expressed by NHS England as it would remain in deficit even after the implementation of the proposals.
But, at a meeting of Epsom and Ewell Council’s Health Liaison Panel on Monday, Rory Hegarty, BSBV's director of communications gave a presentation on the consultation process for the proposals where it emerged that NHS England had now approved both the clinical and financial models.
Mr Hegarty said that the "programme was moving towards consultation", but a timeline of set dates could not be given because NHS England was still seeking assurance from Surrey Downs CCG (SDCCG) that it had conducted further engagement with its GPs.
Mr Hegarty said: "At the moment we are still planning on going to consultation as this is the position of the NHS and CCGs.
"We don’t have a date for the consultation. NHS England’s assessment programme is ongoing.
"They have approved the clinical model for the case for change and they have approved the financial model. What they do want to know more about is the GP engagement."
Karen Parsons, chief operating officer at SDCCG, said: "NHS England want more assurance that SDCCG has taken some further views from its GPs.
"SDCCG is not prepared to rush engagement with our GP practices. It will most likely be [done by] the end of November."
All the relevant clinical commissioning groups plus NHS England then have to agree that the plan should go to public consultation.
With the Christmas period looming, it now looks very unlikely that the three-month BSBV consultation could start before the new year.
Mr Hegarty said the consultation process would be "inclusive, wide-reaching and in-depth" and the aim would be to "flood the area with consultation documents".
He said door-to-door visits would not be made, but qualitative and quantitative methods would be used, including two large scale events at Bourne Hall and King’s Church or Nescot, four health guides conducting 40 outreach sessions, an online survey, use of social media and text messaging, and 16 road shows across Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, and Elmbridge.
Councillor George Crawford said he was "astounded" at the presentation and that residents would become apathetic because of "consultation overload".
Mole Valley councillor Chris Townsend, representing Ashtead Park, said: "What’s going to happen if you get a stack of stuff which says 'we don’t want any of the above'?"
Mr Hegarty said it is an "open process" and the proposals could change during the consultation.
He added: "We think no change would not work, but if people want to provide us with evidence that it would then they can."
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