As St Helier hospital’s future hangs in the balance, Sutton Council has hit out at the panel recommending which hospital in SW London will lose its vital services.

As part of the NHS Better Services Better Value review, either St Helier, Croydon University or Kingston hospitals, will lose their Accident and Emergency and maternity department.

Councillor Colin Stears, executive member for adult social care and health, said: "Any process which decides the fate of local hospitals should be totally transparent and concentrate on local people having their say. This just isn’t happening.

"Next week important recommendations will be made by two panels. One is two thirds NHS directors and other, the financial panel, is entirely made up of NHS bureaucrats operating behind closed doors.

"There should be elected representatives for health on both panels and the scoring options must take into account public feeling. We will fight tooth and nail to retain A&E and maternity services for this borough."

A panel of 60 including representatives from each hospital trust, local authority members and community representatives will convene on May 9 and score each hospital as part of the decision into which should lose their A&E and maternity.

The scoring panel’s recommendation and a financial appraisal will be considered by the Better Services Better Value programme board who will make a recommendation to the joint board of NHS SW London PCTs on June 7.

A final recommendation will be put to public consultation which is expected to take about three months.

Councillor Mary Burstow, the chairwoman of the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, is urging people to attend a Joint Scrutiny meeting on May 10 at 6.30pm in the Civic Offices.

There will be a chance to quiz the Better Services Better Value team on what will happen in the future.

St Helier, whose merger plans with St George’s Hospital in Tooting collapsed earlier this year, has the smallest A&E and obstetrics and the fewest users.

In 2010/11 St Helier’s A&E and maternity wards treated 84,926 people, Croydon University treated 110,065 patients and 88,186 were treated at Kingston Hospital.

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It has emerged that the body, NHS SW London, who are running the process, will be disbanded before the recommendations are implemented.

Dr Brendan Hudson, Sutton CCG lead, responded on behalf of the BSBV programme, and said: "The Better Services Better Value programme has been clinically led from the beginning.

"Each of the clinical working groups have made recommendations to how future services should be provided and these groups were co-chaired by a senior GP and a senior hospital clinician.

"Improving clinical services in south-west London will continue to be clinically-led following the transition to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the new Commissioning Board."