Chris Grayling has slammed Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS trust for releasing plans to investors to build housing on surplus hospital land.

Mr Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell, said he opposes plans to build 195 flats and 170 parking spaces on the extra hospital land.

Speaking to the Epsom Guardian, he said the Trust had broken a promise not to sell the surplus land.

“It has been a hot potato issue for a very long time," he said.

“18 months ago, the leadership gave me a written undertaking that they would not sell off the land.

“It’s now become clear that for the past twelve months they have been working to sell off the land."

The option to sell a fifth of the current hospital site was pitched as a means by which to help fund £20.5 million of repairs to the buildings.

Only two months ago, members of Epsom and Ewell Borough Council agreed to call on the Trust to halt its plans to sell the land, with councillor Barry Nash likening the plans to "selling the family silver".

Mr Grayling added that he thought it was the wrong time to sell the land and described it as a "very short term solution".

“There’s strong opposition to this from local community and what I am hearing from staff is that they really worry about saying anything," he added.

“I have spoken to staff in the hospital who are opposed to this.”

In a letter to residents, the Epsom MP continued: “The Trust claims that it needs the money to balance its books. But the Government has just announced a big increase in funding for the NHS in the next few years, and our local Trust is in fact in a better financial position than many others elsewhere”.

“It is certainly true that money needs to be spent on improving Epsom, and the Trust claims that the proceeds of the sale will help do that.

“But with extra money on the way, and no firm decisions about the future, the danger is that a sale will take place, will remove options for the future, and cannot be reversed if it proves to be wrong.”

A public meeting of the Trust's board is due to be held in conference room one at Epsom Hospital on Friday (August 10) at 9.30am.

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS trust did not initially respond to a request for comment from Epsom Guardian.

However, after publishing, the NHS Trust issued a statement on behalf of its chief executive.

Chief executive Daniel Elkeles said: “To ensure we are making the most of our estate and assets, we have looked at what land we have but don’t use, and the areas within our grounds that we will never need.

“We have identified some parts of the Epsom site, containing the derelict York House and old accommodation block, as surplus to our current and future needs. If a new acute facility is to be located on the Epsom site we will still have enough land to build it after the sale of this land. It is therefore suitable to sell, and this plan was approved by our Trust Board in April.”

“As lots of local people are aware, because of our ageing buildings and the way our services are currently configured, Epsom and St Helier cannot continue as we are forever. To secure a long term future that is clinically and financially sustainable, we need to build a state-of-the-art, brand new facility (on one of our existing hospital sites) where our sickest patients will be cared for.

“Before any decisions are made, there would be a public consultation so that local people can have their say about where they think this new facility should be built. Importantly, we have ensured that we have enough space remaining at each of our three hospital sites to build a new acute facility. Following public consultation, if Epsom were chosen as the site of our new acute facility, the new building would be placed at the front of the site.

“A development of that size will of course take some years to complete, and in the meantime we cannot stand still. We have to sort out the many, many issues we have with our existing buildings.”