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Epsom Hospital meeting disappoints

March 8, 2009 8:29 PM
Cllrs Colin Taylor and Julie Morris outside the new Bradbury Wing of Epsom General Hospital

Cllrs Colin Taylor and Julie Morris outside the new Bradbury Wing of Epsom General Hospital

Anyone who attended the recent Town Hall meeting about Epsom Hospital, hoping to hear a clear statement about its future, came away disappointed. There was very little hard news - but at least none of it was bad.

There is no plan to close the hospital - it will continue to provide free NHS treatment and there will continue to be an A&E. There will probably be a new Stroke unit and the future of the consultant-led Maternity department also seems secure, though both of these are subject to confirmation. The possible separation of Epsom from St Helier is being considered, but seems unlikely.

However the Trust is going ahead with rebuilding St Helier, phase 1 of which will cost £150 million. Epsom will also need rebuilding, but where the money will come from is unclear. Talks with the Denbies Trust continue, but it was not clear how their proposals would fit in.

There is no current prospect of Epsom getting its emergency surgery service back. There are also concerns about the hours of opening at A&E. And the consultant-led maternity unit will only be commissioned on a small scale basis with just 40 hours of cover per week, less than at St Helier.

It will still take many months before the picture is clear. However, by publishing their commissioning intentions now, Surrey PCT has stepped in to assure equal access to services to Surrey residents living within the catchment area of the Epsom & St Helier Hospitals Trust.

Nevertheless, as one local resident commented, with all due respect to the medical and clinical knowledge on display it was clear that Doctor still knows best and that residents expressing their view was seen as unwarranted political interference.