Health chiefs announced this afternoon they now want to shut two A&Es and maternity units in the region.
The healthcare review Better Services Better Value review (BSBV) programme board recommended on Wednesday, that two A&E and maternity departments out of those at St Helier, Epsom, Kingston or Croydon University Hospital should close. Services at St George's are safe.
Last year, before the collapse of Epsom's merger with St Peters, it was proposing to close just one of each, and following consultations and "scoring" process it was decided they would be axed at St Helier.
Michael Bailey, consultant urologist and medical director for the BSBV programme, said after the meeting: "I would strongly emphasise that no decisions have been made yet. These are clinical recommendations from local doctors and nurses only. Further work needs to be done to determine whether they would work in practice."
But Chris Grayling MP, who is leading the campaign to save Epsom Hospital, said of the recommendation: "If they are saying this is the number of A&E and maternity units we need before taking into account the needs of Surrey, it makes a mockery of the whole process.
"They are going much further than putting the cart before the horse."
BSBV, which has already cost taxpayers £2m, is carrying out the same review again but this time including Epsom Hospital in the process.
Groups involved in the campaign to save Epsom Hospital are being encouraged to attend a key meeting next week where its role within the BSBV review is to be discussed.
In a letter to constituents, Mr Grayling said the BSBV team are to hold a "scoring" meeting on the evening of January 15 - which he said he believes is the only meeting of its kind due to take place.
But a BSBV spokesman denied that the meeting, to be held at Epsom Downs Racecourse, will be a "scoring" meeting where any formal decision will be made, and said a series of consultations have already been held by Surrey’s GPs in the area.
The spokesman said: "In addition, next week, a formal event is being held in Surrey for around 100 key stakeholders representing the community such as members of patient groups, local authorities and the voluntary sector.
"Their feedback will be shared with the clinicians leading the programme before they make their final recommendations. This is similar to what happened in south west London boroughs this time last year.
"At the same time, Surrey GPs and clinicians from Epsom Hospital have been involved in reviewing the clinical models of care to take account of the inclusion of Epsom Hospital and how this affects the original clinical working group recommendations.
"Surrey residents will have many opportunities to contribute when the public consultation is launched later on in 2013 during which we will be asking for feedback and comments on our options for change.
"During this time we will be holding many public meetings and community road shows throughout Surrey. In the meantime, we want to ensure Surrey residents are up to speed with the programme and the process so far."
Mr Grayling said he was informed by an individual within the NHS that it was a "scoring" meeting but said that even if that is not the case it shows how Epsom is being considered within BSBV as an "after thought".
The meeting will not be open to the public, but he is encouraging local groups to request to attend by emailing email@example.com.
He said: "The BSBV in London has been talking about going to public consultation by the end of March. So for them to be in a position to have a strategy for the future of acute services in Epsom Hospital, they have two and a half months to decide.
"I have had a letter from a group of Surrey GPs who said they are worried that they are not having a say in the BSBV process.
"We need to put a shot across the bows of the BSBV in London so the project team does not treat Epsom Hospital as an after-thought."
He said that while the "overwhelming view" of the NHS is that it should provide a small number of bigger hospitals which are centres of excellence, he believes there is a place for hospitals such as Epsom.
Mr Grayling added: "It’s still possible to have a decent local hospital delivering a lower level of basic services for the local community, which does most of the things people want it to do.
"We can look at running Epsom in a way that has primary care, GPs on-site and maternity services for routine births."
Article from epsomguardian
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