An angry health campaigner confronted Jeremy Hunt and accused him of ‘demolishing the NHS’ and closing down the hospital he was visiting.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt visited St Helier Hospital in Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, on Wednesday (May 3) as part of his campaign.

As he was leaving alongside Sutton and Cheam’s Conservative MP Paul Scully, Mr Hunt was followed and questioned by a member from the Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) group.

Sutton Guardian:

The campaigner asked Mr Hunt: “How have you got the cheek to come here when you are closing our hospital and people will die because they can’t get to A&E because of your actions?

“You are supposed to be responsible for the NHS: How does it feel to be destroying it?

“How does it feel to turn it into a private health insurance industry?”

From April: Merton Council leader 'opposes potential A&E closure' at St Helier Hospital, but NHS spokeperson denies south west London STP specifies services to be axed

As Mr Hunt drove away – getting his wing mirror tangled in red and white tape cordoning off construction work on a wall – she added: “I think the names they call you are right, Mr Hunt. Your name is clearly misspelled.

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

From February: One in six A&E departments 'facing downgrading or closure', new analysis suggests

As she returned inside, she asked Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief executive Daniel Elkeles: “How do you feel having a visit from Mr Hunt?

“Did he give you a gold badge for shutting our hospital?

“How do you feel? Are you pleased with that, Daniel?”

Sutton Guardian:
Daniel Elkeles outside St Helier Hospital yesterday

Neither Mr Hunt nor Mr Elkeles responded.

Sutton Guardian:

The campaigner was referencing plans to reduce the number of acute hospital in south west London from five to four, or even three, which are outlined in the South West London Five Year Forward Plan.

KOSHH campaigners fear St Helier Hospital, which serves patients from across Sutton and Merton, could be closed or downgraded.

Sutton Guardian:

The draft south West London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) states: "Its 1930s structure prevents it ever being made compliant with modern standards for safe and high quality healthcare."

After yesterday’s visit, Mr Hunt said: “St Helier has made huge strides in recent years and I was delighted to hear more on my visit about progress and plans for the future.

"There is no question that St Helier hospital is here to stay, but we do need a plan for improving the facilities and the services on which local people rely.

"So it was great to see how Theresa May’s local Conservative candidates are working with the local NHS leadership to deliver a vision for St Helier.”

Sutton Guardian:
Jeremy Hunt stopped to disentangle the tape from his wing mirror

KOSHH claims the draft STP for Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth indicate that St Helier Hospital’s A&E and maternity units could close.

A spokesperson for the NHS in south west London said: “The STP isn’t a blueprint for south west London - it contains a range of proposals, which are at different stages of development.

“There will not be a one size fits all approach as different boroughs have different needs. Instead, detailed plans will be developed locally by health providers, local authorities and primary care working together across south west London in local transformation boards.

“It is important to note that no decisions have been made and our plans will continue to develop and we will involve local people in developing them.”

Sutton Guardian:
St Helier Hospital in Wrythe Lane, Carshalton

A spokeswoman from Epsom and St Helier Hospital said the Trust could confirm Mr Hunt’s visit, but could not comment further.

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