Sutton receives more support as the preferred site for new Specialist Acute Care Hospital after 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.

I am delighted that the report concludes that, on balance, Sutton received more support as a potential site for a new Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (SECH), especially among those who also supported this proposed model of care, and would like to thank all my constituents who voted in favour of this option, which is clearly the best solution from the perspective of medical excellence and local access.

Thank you also to the team at the Trust for getting the project to where it is today.

Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive of the Trust, commented as follows in his weekly report: 

"The report was carried out by Opinion Research Services Ltd and reviews all the consultation activity and we are delighted that the consultation has been awarded a certificate of best practice by the Consultation Institute. It was the result of :

  • 4,172 responses to the consultation questionnaire, with 724 from NHS staff
  • Conversations with over 6,000 residents at more than 100 public events across Sutton, Merton and Surrey Downs
  • Over 1,000 attendees at eight public listening events
  • In-depth interviews, focus groups, and other forums to reach specific local demographics.

The main findings of today’s report show:

  • Many people who took part recognised the challenges facing the NHS nationally, and at Epsom and St Helier hospitals locally
  • The additional £500 million 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.  

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

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.

The feedback from NHS staff (thank you to all who took part) shows overwhelming support for the clinical model and a definite preference for the new Specialist Emergency Care Hospital to be built on the Sutton site. However, there were some concerns raised from some areas of our communities, including worries about accessibility and the impact on local communities. Further work to explore some of the key themes raised is already underway and will be needed before any final decisions are made, including reassessing the clinical model to ensure it can meet any future needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has shown all too clearly the difficulties of trying to tackle modern epidemics in old hospital buildings such as ours. We needed more scope to create ITU beds during the surge, we needed up-to-date pipes to support the increased demand on piped oxygen and we needed (as always) more single rooms to help prevent and control infections. Our current buildings couldn’t support any of that, but with your hard work and creative thinking, we got it all done and provided great care to some gravely sick patients.

But, this can’t go on –  if we have a brand new specialist hospital we would have more intensive care beds, more single rooms for infection control and teams of specialists working together to care for patients.

The governing bodies of our Clinical Commissioning Groups (South West London and Surrey Heartlands) will meet on 3 July to consider feedback and make the decision on the Specialist Emergency Care Hospital  – so, in just over six weeks we should be able to be planning for our new hospital in earnest."