As many people will know, for some years now the future of services at St Helier hospital has been in doubt. Situated almost exactly on the borders of the constituencies of Sutton and Cheam and Carshalton and Wallington, St Helier is a hugely valuable NHS resource, particularly given that it serves some of our poorer communities including the St Helier and Rosehill estates. Between now and April, a consultation is under way which will determine St Helier’s future. As part of this consultation, members of the public are being asked for their views on three options to invest £500 million of national funding to build a new specialist emergency care hospital – on the Epsom, St Helier or Sutton hospital sites.

The Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton have put forward Sutton as their preferred option for the location of this new facility, but in their own words, ‘are keen to stress that we are clear that all three options could be delivered.’ In addition, the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust themselves have stated, ‘We would like to make it clear that, contrary to recent comments in the press, that the Trust has no preferred solution for the future of Epsom and St Helier.’

My view is that at a time when we are seeing growing health inequalities in our society – life expectancy in Croydon is the ninth-worst of all 32 London boroughs – any plan which sees resources moved from areas of greatest need should simply not be going ahead. My father was born in St Helier Hospital, and I am myself am a resident and teacher in Croydon – every day, I see the impacts of these stark inequalities.  I believe very strongly that any consultation of this type has to be genuine, and fully take into account the views of the people it is meant to serve.  Local residents and community groups have been campaigning for a positive future for St Helier Hospital for many years now.  

For these reasons I would urge you to take part in the consultation, as I have, and make sure that your voice and concerns are heard.  As someone standing for selection as Labour’s GLA candidate for Croydon and Sutton, I pledge that if selected I will continue to fight for the future of St Helier.

Further detail on the proposals and the consultation questionnaire itself can be found here: https://improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk

(Picture courtesy of Stephen Richards)