Next steps for specialist emergency care hospital consultation

Independent analysis of feedback received during the recent public consultation on a £500m investment to improve services at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust has been published today. Read the independent consultation analysis report by clicking here.

Next steps will be to consider all the feedback, which showed broad support for the proposed clinical model and importantly to undertake further work to explore some of the key themes raised before any final decisions are made.

Welcoming the report, Dr Andrew Murray, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS South West London CCG said:  “Given the current circumstances, it feels more important than ever that we continue this programme to secure the right healthcare services for local people.  The coronavirus pandemic has shown all too clearly the difficulties of trying to tackle modern epidemics in old hospital buildings such as Epsom and St Helier.  We are also doing additional work to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our clinical model to ensure it fully meets any future needs.”

Dr Charlotte Canniff, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Surrey Heartlands CCG said: “We want to thank everyone who took the time to listen to our proposals and then respond, either online, on paper or face-to-face. Today’s report shows there is clear support for this vital investment but also some concerns that we are already looking at as part of our next steps.”

The Improving Healthcare Together consultation, which ran from 8 January until 1 April this year, put forward plans to invest in both Epsom and St Helier hospitals and to build a new specialist emergency care hospital at either Epsom, St Helier or Sutton.

The main findings showed:

  • Many consultees recognised the challenges facing the NHS nationally, and at Epsom and St Helier hospitals locally;
  • The additional £500m investment was welcomed;
  • Widespread support for the proposed clinical model to address the case for change, particularly from NHS staff and clinical stakeholders;
  • Levels of support for the clinical model varied by geography, with fewer Merton residents supporting the proposals.

Looking across all consultation strands, on balance Sutton received more support as the preferred site, but support did vary depending on where consultees lived. The strongest support for either Epsom or St Helier as the new site came from residents living closest to these hospitals.

Dr Charlotte Canniff added:  “It is important to remember that under any of the proposals most services will stay where they are now. Once a final decision is made, there will be over five years of close working between the NHS and local communities to make sure the new and existing hospitals work seamlessly together.”

The most common concerns raised during the consultation related to:

  • access to services, especially pre-and-post maternity care
  • the impact on local communities
  • transport and travel, especially for people living in more deprived areas
  • longer journey times which might lead to poorer health outcomes.

Other themes included the impact on other hospitals and care providers, how staffing and hospital transfers would work across three sites, and whether bed numbers would be able to meet future demand.

In response we have already started additional work to explore these key themes in more detail, particularly around travel and transport options, bed numbers and access to services such as pre-and-post maternity care, all of which will feed into the decision-making process.

Dr James Marsh, Joint Medical Director at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals added:

“The coronavirus pandemic, which started at the end of the consultation, has reinforced the importance of investing in our hospitals. Under our plans, we would have a brand new specialist hospital with more intensive care beds, more single rooms for infection control and teams of specialists working together to care for patients.”

The Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (South West London and Surrey Heartlands) Governing Bodies will meet on 3 July to consider feedback from the consultation and all the evidence alongside a decision-making business case.