Fears that Epsom and St Helier hospitals could be forced to shut have been stoked again a Conservative candidate put forward plans for a new hospital in the area.

Health campaigners expressed shock after Paul Scully, who is standing for re-election in Sutton and Cheam, suggested building a new hospital at a hustings meeting last week.

Mr Scully, the former MP for the constituency, assured the Sutton Guardian that this would not lead to the closure of either Epsom or St Helier Hospital.

He did, however, concede that there was a “risk of downgrading” of the hospitals’ services sketched out in each hospital’s respective sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) – five-year plans for the future of health and care services in 44 regions throughout Britain drawn up the NHS and the relevant local authorities.

From February: One in six A&E departments 'facing downgrading or closure', new analysis suggests

From May: Angry health campaigner from Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) confronts Jeremy Hunt during hospital visit

But Mr Scully said this is why discussions about the future of the sites needed to take place.

At the hustings meeting at the Salvation Army Church on June 1, Mr Scully said: “What I would like to do is to work with the chief executive to make sure that we raise £300million (to build a new hospital) – that could be on the St Helier site, it could be on the Epsom site, (but) my preference would be to build it on the Sutton Hospital site.

“I want to make sure that we are keeping A&E, we are keeping maternity, and keeping all of these services in Sutton.”

Surrey Comet:
Epsom Hospital in Dorking Road

When asked by the Epsom Guardian for clarification on whether building the ‘new hospital’ he proposed would mean the closure of either Epsom or St Helier Hospital, Mr Scully replied: “No, we would end up with three hospitals. One of them is new.

“It doesn’t involve a hospital closing.”

Surrey Comet:
St Helier Hospital in Wrythe Lane, Carshalton

He added: “This is just my plan. We’re talking about a lot of detail that is not near to being ready.

“We need to make sure that all three sites are being used by the NHS – any detail beyond that is up for discussion – but each would have an urgent care centre and one of them would have an A&E.”

Surrey Comet:

But Dave Ash from Keep Our St Helier Hospital, and who attended last week’s hustings, said: “There’s no doubt that (Mr Scully) is advocating the closure of large parts of Epsom and St Helier Hospitals in preference to build a new, smaller hospital on the Sutton hospital site though, in line with that which was revealed in the ‘traingate’ affair.”

From April 2015: Secret plans to close Epsom and St Helier and build new "super hospital" overheard on train

From April 2017: Council leader 'opposes potential A&E closure' at St Helier Hospital, but NHS spokeperson denies south west London STP specifies services to be axed

In April 2015, management consultants were overheard on a commuter train discussing plans to “build a new super hospital” on the former Sutton Hospital site. Epsom and St Helier chief executive Daniel Elkeles said that any plans were “many years away” from being implemented.

Surrey Comet:

A spokesperson for the NHS in south west London said the south west London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) (which covers Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth) does not make any proposals for specific hospitals and that there are currently no plans to change any of the hospital sites in south west London.

Surrey Comet:

But KOSHH campaigners fear St Helier Hospital could be closed or downgraded. The STP (pictured above) states: “Its 1930s structure prevents it ever being made compliant with modern standards for safe and high-quality healthcare.”

Surrey Comet:

The Surrey Heartlands STP (which relates to healthcare in Epsom, Guildford, and Chertsey), meanwhile, refers to the development “if appropriate” of a model “with Epsom and without Epsom” (pictured above). The STP’s executive summary makes clear that “it is not a final plan”.

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