Crispin Blunt MP today has joined other local MPs in warmly welcoming the Independent Approval of plans for Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust to build a new NHS acute care facility at Sutton.
The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), the independent expert on NHS service change, gave their approval to plans in a letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 30th October.
The IRP, in their letter to the Secretary of State, said: “The Panel finds no reason to contradict the choice of Sutton (Belmont) as the location for the specialist emergency care hospital centre, complemented by district hospital services at Epsom and St Helier and the development of out of hospital services.”
Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton Clinical Commissioning Groups were allocated £500 million in September 2019 to improve the current buildings at Epsom and St Helier hospitals as well as build a new specialist emergency care hospital on one of the three sites – Epsom, St Helier or Sutton.
A public consultation on the proposals was conducted earlier in the year with Sutton as the preferred site for the new hospital.
The three CCGS met to approve the plans in July and selected Sutton as the successful site for the new hospital.
The majority of services under the new model will remain at Epsom and St Helier hospitals with the sickest patients treated at the new Sutton hospital.
The plans were referred to the IRP earlier in the year by Merton Council, after NHS leaders had already approved them. Assertions made in the referral were, however, dismissed by the independent body.
The IRP stated that the new plans could reduce cancellations, complications and delays, as well as benefit from greater availability of senior staff across specialist areas for better, faster decisions about the sickest patients.
Assertions about the implications of moving specialised acute services were judged to have insignificant impacts, due to the relatively short distance within the Borough of Sutton.
Paying particular regard to current and future pandemics, the IRP urged progress to continue with the plans:
“The Panel understands the heightened sense of uncertainty created by Covid-19 but does not believe the interests of local health services will be served by pausing – rather work should proceed on the basis that there may well be benefits should another pandemic arise in the future.”
“The problems facing the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust are real and require urgent attention. The NHS cannot simply mothball its plans to tackle longstanding problems until Covid-19 has been overcome. Difficult though it undoubtedly is, work must continue on schemes throughout the country to improve services and facilities taking account of our growing knowledge of Covid-19 as we proceed.”
Crispin Blunt commented: “This proposal passes yet another test and hasn’t failed any except those arising from political interference in narrow party interest since 2007. Let’s finally get on with having a first-class modern critical care hospital co-located with a world-class cancer facility. This is a really positive result for residents living in the north of my constituency.”