Closing St Helier Hospital's A&E and maternity will cost taxpayers £100m
Closing vital services at St Helier Hospital will cost tax payers over £100million, a report has revealed.
The document is composed by a healthcare review which recommended that St Helier should be the hospital in SW London to lose its accident and emergency and maternity departments and become a centre for planned surgery instead.
The Better Services, Better Value Review document reveals that capital costs would amount to £102.7million on top of already planned expenditure to convert St Helier to a centre for planned surgery compared with £67.1million to make the same changes at Croydon and £34.9million at Kingston.
The review has also recommended that St Helier, Kingston and Croydon University hospitals are all set to lose their inpatient paediatric care in favour of a single children’s hospital based at St George’s Hospital in Tooting.
The document was issued following demands by councillors on the South West London Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Cheam councillor Mary Burstow said: “This is a staggering waste of taxpayers’ money. Patients in Sutton and across South London are entitled to high-quality, cost effective healthcare.
“These figures show that not only is the plan to close vital wards at St Helier ridiculous on health grounds, it is also unsustainable in financial terms. BSBV is recommending spending more than £100m on providing less healthcare. It makes absolutely no sense.”
The BSBV recommendations, which were made in May, were expected to be agreed on July 26 and then sent out for formal consultation in the next few weeks. But that has now been delayed until September.
Coun Burstow added: “This delay is proof that the process is a complete shambles. The recommendations were made without any serious consideration of how these changes could be made.
“For example in north west London, where they are considering closing four A&E departments, £130m has been set aside for a programme to shift patients away from hospitals to seek community care.
“Here, where the BSBV plan is based on an assumption that A&E visitor numbers will be cut by around 40 per cent, not one single penny has been allocated for a similar programme.
“The amazing thing is that there is not even any guarantee that if the proposals are finally approved the money would be there. We could go through this entire painful process then apply for the funding to make these unwanted changes and be refused. It’s total madness.”
Even if facilities were considerably scaled back at St Helier with a cheaper redesign offering fewer services, the change would still cost £53.3m.
A spokesperson for BSBV said: “These plans are about investing in local health services to improve them for patients. BSBV is certainly not recommending providing less healthcare – we are talking about using the money we have to organise services better. The proposals are actually projected to deliver up to £19m worth of savings in hospitals and allow for investment of £60-70m in community services. Over 100 doctors and nurses have put these proposals forward because they believe they will save lives.
“It is untrue that more money has been set aside for a similar reconfiguration of health services in north west London. In fact there is a consistent amount of money allocated in north west London as allocated per person in south west London. The north west London reconfiguration review covers a bigger area and has a larger population.
“In south west London, the amount of money estimated to be allocated each year on the shift from hospital to community-based care is between £70-100m. The six emerging GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are working on five year plans that best serve their local patients and once these CCGs are formally in place it will be possible to better assess the finances. An additional £6m has been dedicated specifically to drive delivery of the programme to move care in to community settings, so that we can prioritise and speed up the introduction of these services for local people.
“It is common in any NHS service change programme for added investment to be planned in some areas. We will not go to public consultation until the pre-consultation business case, setting out all our capital assumptions, is agreed by NHS London.
“The Joint Boards are not in a position to make a decision this week as the financial appraisal is still ongoing and it is critical that we get it right.”
Save St Helier campaign