NHS officials are considering backing plans to shake up acute services at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

Three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) - Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton - have released a draft paper outlining what they believe would ensure the long-term future of health services in the area.

In that paper, the groups identified three problems as Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Trust: there are not enough senior staff to run two acute units, current buildings are either deteriorating or already unfit for long-term use, and the trust has an annual deficit of about £37million.

A provisional short list of three possible solutions to assure the future of acute services (for seriously ill or injured people needing urgent short-term treatment or care) at Epsom and St Helier was drawn up.

Those options - creating a major acute services unit at either Epsom, St Helier or Sutton hospitals, to replace the service currently offered at both Epsom and St Helier - are the same three options the hospitals trust is proposing.

The CCGs, which are independent from the trust, will work with the public and trust to decide what is the best way forward - be that one of the three options or to continue running services as they are.

They arrived at the short list after coming up with 50 possible scenarios and then disregarding those that moved acute services out of their combined catchment, involved more than one acute centre, or involved sites not currently used by the trust.

The trust's proposals are not without controversy: Epsom and Ewell Borough Council has insisted acute services must remain at Epsom, and campaigners have even suggested people could die if acute services are moved from one of the existing sites.

But a summer-long engagement programme last year suggested that overall the public backs plans to create a single specialist unit.

This draft paper, released on June 15, is being used by the CCGs as the start of their engagement process.

They will soon publish equality impact and deprivation analyses - trying to work out how each option might impact people disadvantaged by poverty, poor education, disability or other factors.

Details of upcoming public events will be published by the CCGs as they are confirmed, and in the mean time they are asking for people's thoughts on a series of questions, available on the groups' websites.