Ambulances diverted four times in two years from St Helier's busy A&E, but BSBV health bosses still want to close service
Ambulances have been diverted away from St Helier Hospital's A&E four times since 2012 because it is so busy, but health bosses still want to close it.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that twice, in March and November in 2012, ambulances from the London Ambulance Service (LAS) were diverted to other hospitals for 90 minutes.
This year LAS were diverted away from St Helier’s A&E on March 6 for 90 minutes and on March 7 a divert was put in place from 9am to 5pm as the hospital declared a "major internal incident" because it was so busy.
Earlier this year it emerged that St Helier’s A&E was so busy the trust had to bring in temporary staff in order to cope as volume of admissions were disproportionate to their medical staff numbers.
Despite having such a busy A&E department if proposals by the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) healthcare review go ahead St Helier Hospital’s A&E department will be closed along with the A&E at its sister hospital Epsom.
It is understood that ambulances have been diverted to St Helier from other hospitals eight times this year.
The review has been heavily criticised by campaigners for not having an out of hospital care plan and instead concentrating on acute services.
Tom Brake the MP for Carshalton and Wallington said: "First of all it is clear that nationally A&Es are under pressure and the government has allocated funding to some A&Es to address this - although Epsom and St Helier wasn’t one of them.
"This FOI reveals once again that the A&E at St Helier Hospital is under huge pressure and it is treating a very large number of patients and we cannot possibly do without it."
Mike Bailey, joint medical director of BSBV, said: "The current capacity issues are a symptom of the problems we are trying to address.
"Our proposals are to centralise services by expanding emergency services at three hospitals, so that they have enough space to treat patients.
"After reconfiguration, the three hospitals would therefore have larger units and our activity modelling work shows they would be able to cope with the expected additional patients."
BSBV has earmarked both Epsom and St Helier’s A&E, maternity and paediatric departments for closure.
There were no diverts from Epsom Hospital during this period.
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