Health pressure group supports St Helier Hospital campaign
A health pressure group has become the latest organisation to condemn proposals to shut St Helier Hospital's A&E, maternity and children's wards and put a planned surgery clinic in their place.
Sutton LINk (Local Involvement Network) members revealed an overwhelming demand for the hospital not to be stripped of facilities which are vital to the local community and beyond.
In May a Better Services Better Value review of healthcare in south west London recommended that St George's, Croydon and Kingston hospitals retain their A&E clinics while St Helier's should close and the hospital become a centre for planned surgery across the region.
But a survey of LINk members has rejected the plan and Ted Gates MBE, Chair of Sutton LINk/Pathfinder Healthwatch, said: "The LINk survey carried out this month shows that 73% want to keep four hospitals with A&E, maternity and paediatric services - even if a full service (specialist consultant) cannot be provided all the time."
The survey highlighted significant fears focusing on the negative effects of longer travel times and poorer quality of care due to overcrowded hospitals leading to greater delays and pressure on staff.
It also echoed concerns that no replacement services have been set up in the community to cope with increased demand if St Helier A&E is shut.
One member wrote, 'Further to A&E could mean longer, and death. For those who rely on public transport, access to the other three hospitals involves more than one bus and rail transport to Kingston and St George's is abysmal. Visiting friends and relatives in hospital would be extremely difficult, which in turn leads to patients being less happy - leading to longer recovery times.'
The survey asked members to explain what they liked about St Helier; 92% said it was near to home, 84% praised the quality of A&E, 66% cited good transport and 61% experienced a positive patient experience.
Leader of Sutton Council Ruth Dombey said: "This is further proof of how unpopular the BSBV plan is. GPs, politicians, LINk and, most importantly, residents have all come out against the proposals.
"We will continue to fight until we get this ridiculous plan shelved and we secure the long-term future of St Helier as a fully functioning hospital for the people of Sutton and south west London."