8:00am Tuesday 29th May 2012
By Matt Watts
St Helier Hospital is preparing alternative options for its long-term future that would avoid the closure of the accident and emergency department.
More than 40 doctors, nurses and other staff, from the hospital's trust, as well as local GPs, councillors, patients and representatives from other NHS organisations, met on Friday to discuss a plan to save the under-threat services at the hospital.
The meeting held in partnership with health think-tank The King’s Fund was organised in the wake of St George's Hospital withdrawing their bid to merge with St Helier earlier this year.
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust must soon find an alternative financial plan that will allow it to meet the Government target of becoming a foundation trust by 2014.
The meeting took on greater significance after it emerged this month a string of vital services - including St Helier's children's ward, A&E and maternity services -are earmarked for closure as part of the NHS's Better Service, Better Value (BSBV) review.
The hospital is drawing up a plan that allows it to gain a financially sustainable future that includes the key services. Plans include looking at whether other NHS services could be brought onto the site to maximise the benefits to patients and improve efficiency, including GPs helping to assess patients that come to hospital.
Friday's seminar was the first in a series of planned meetings ahead of the hospital publishing a list of possible options for the long term future of St Helier by July.
The hospital wants the options on the table before the NHS SW London makes a decision on whether to move forward with its plans to axe the frontline service at St Helier by going out to public consultation.
Matthew Hopkins, Trust Chief Executive said: "The decision by St George’s not to ‘bid’ to merge with St Helier means we need to look at other options to ensure the hospital can continue to deliver the best and most efficient services for its patients and local people in the long term.
"We are facing tough financial times and need to think innovatively about what we can do to ensure our services are sustainable in the years to come.
"The recommendation put forward by the BSBV review (for the future of St Helier) is just one way of thinking."
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