Patients reassured about hospital services “staying put” at Epsom and St Helier

Frontline NHS staff have spelled out the huge range of services that will stay put at St Helier and Epsom hospitals regardless of where a new state of the art hospital is built.

In a video published today, doctors, nurses and consultants highlight many of the 85% of services that will remain in refurbished buildings at both facilities – from MRI scans to chemotherapy and kidney dialysis.

It comes after proposals were put forward for a new 21st century emergency care facility on the Epsom, St Helier or Sutton hospital sites. Sutton was agreed as a preferred option but health leaders made it clear all three could be delivered.

The state-of-the-art hospital would treat the sickest people – housing services such as A&E, critical care and emergency surgery – while women could choose between giving birth there with experienced doctors on hand in case there is a problem or being helped to have their baby at home.

At the same time, the proposals will see at least £80 million invested in crumbling buildings at Epsom and St Helier, which would be known as district hospitals featuring urgent treatment centres open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The three-minute video of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust staff has been released as part of the consultation on the proposals being run by the clinical commissioning groups in Merton, Sutton and Surrey Downs following some uncertainty about the role of the two existing hospitals.

Trust Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “Hopefully, this video helps people understand that 85% of services will continue to be provided at both Epsom and St Helier, regardless of where the new specialist emergency hospital is built.

“There are lots of misconceptions about what emergency services really mean. Hopefully you won’t need an emergency service but the most important thing if you do is to have specialist staff on hand 24/7 to fight for your life. It’s not possible to do this across two sites – which is why we need to make a change.”

In the video Craig Wood, a Consultant Nurse at the St Helier Urgent Treatment Centre, explained that two-thirds of patients at A&E are cared for by him and his team and that they were “staying put”.

Afterwards he added: “I don’t think people realise that most of the care and treatment people believe they’re getting at A&E is actually provided by the Urgent Treatment Centre based in the same place. Things like head injuries, broken bones which don’t require emergency surgery, or sprains and cuts, are all cared for by the experts in the Urgent Treatment Centre.

“Anyone who needed to be would be transferred extremely quickly to the specialist emergency care hospital by ambulance – this arrangement is already in place at Epsom Hospital for emergency surgery and works well.”

Mr Vipul Patel, Consultant Surgeon and Medical Director of the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre (SWLEOC) used the video to confirm that people needing orthopaedic services would continue to go to the world-renowned centre in Epsom.

SWLEOC’s medical director said after filming: “Whether you need a hip replaced, treatment for a knee problem or surgery for shoulder or back issues, nothing will change for you under these proposals.

“You’ll still visit Epsom in exactly the same way as before. You’ll have surgery and then get looked after by us until you’re ready to go home – receiving the same high-quality care we’ve always provided.”​​

Media outlets are free to embed the video, which can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sRInfMkyE4. More information about the consultation – including details of events for the public to find out more – are available on the Improving Healthcare Together website.

For more information please contact the press office 020 3880 0302 or pressoffice@swlondon.nhs.uk

Notes to editors

There are 15 ways of raising awareness and for people to participate in the consultation and give their views on the proposals:

A series of nine public listening events (three in each CCG area) – open invite events to share information on proposed options for change, answer specific questions from the public to increase understanding of the consultation and proposals, as well as invite and listen to feedback and encourage people to respond to the consultation questionnaire.

Community outreach work – targeted engagement activities with groups such as older people and deprived communities as well as seldom heard groups like people with learning disabilities; also responding to invites to local groups and attending local events and venues to promote the consultation.

Funding voluntary groups – to help communities with various protected characteristics and seldom heard groups engage with the consultation; working with lead voluntary and community organisation in each CCG.

Deliberative events – informed two-way discussions over a full day with participants recruited to ensure representative sample from Trust catchment (age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status).

Focus groups & in-depth interviews – Small group discussions with participants recruited from key populations identified in impact assessments (older people, pregnant women/women who have recently given birth, parents of under 16s and 16-24-year-olds) & 1 to 1 interviews with harder to reach populations.

Telephone surveys – based on the questions within the consultation questionnaire and will target a representative range of views from the combined geographies and neighbouring areas of those who may not otherwise contribute to the consultation.

Mobile roadshows in busy places – to raise awareness of the consultation, share information and encourage people to ask questions and complete the consultation questionnaire.

Clinical pop-ups – raising awareness with patients and staff in GP surgeries, St Helier and Epsom Hospitals to encourage people to ask questions and complete the consultation questionnaire.

Royal Mail door to door leaflet drop – a leaflet which summarises the proposals and gives details on planned engagement activities will be posted to residents across Merton, Sutton and Surrey Downs and number of impacted neighbouring areas between 13 January – 18 January. Additionally, we will distribute leaflets across GP practices, pharmacies, St Helier and Epsom Hospitals, councils and libraries.

Distribution of consultation materials – we have printed copies consultation summary and full document which we will send out to GP practices, citizens advice centres, council buildings, dentists, job centres, opticians, leisure centres, libraries, pharmacies, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals and community and voluntary sector organisations; these will be electronically available along with the questionnaire from the IHT website.  The questionnaire will also be available to fill in on paper with a freepost address and will be promoted at all our engagement events.

Making materials accessible to all – we have translated the consultation questionnaire and consultation summary into three languages: Tamil, Urdu and Polish (three main most common languages in our combined geographies). These documents are available electronically and hard copies can be provided upon request. We have produced easy read versions of the consultation summary and questionnaire. The Improving Healthcare Together website also features software designed to support anyone with a visual impairment, learning disability or where English isn’t their first language. Browsealoud is a support tool which reads aloud, magnifies and translates all the content (including pdfs) on our website.

Social media – using social media channels across South West London and targeted advertising to raise awareness of how people can access information, have their say and complete the consultation questionnaire.

Radio advertising – radio advertisements broadcast on local radio stations across Merton, Sutton and Surrey Downs to raise awareness of the consultation and to let people know how they can have their say.

Print advertising – in local newspapers raising awareness of the proposals and explaining the number of ways people can get involved and have their say.