Epsom Hospital – Letter from Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

There has been a significant development over the future of Epsom Hospital.
The Chief Executive of the Epsom and St Helier Trust has today launched a
public discussion about the future of the two hospitals, arguing that
emergency and high end services, like maternity, need to be merged into a
new building on one site. As I indicated in previous emails, he has been
arguing that there should be a new hospital next to the Royal Marsden in
Sutton for some time. But this discussion leaves open the option of building
a new hospital at Sutton, Epsom or St Helier – a debate we have had many
times before. I do not believe it is helpful to have that debate again now.

In particular, I do not believe it is helpful to our local community to keep
getting caught up in a debate about how the NHS in London will operate in
future. Some months ago, the regional leadership of the NHS in the South
agreed in principle to Epsom being separated from St Helier, and for it to
become part of a network of Surrey hospitals. I think this is a much better
option for its future.

Decisions about the operational structure of the NHS are no longer taken by
politicians, even at a senior level. They are left to the professional
leadership of the NHS. But that will not stop me making a strong case for
the future of Epsom and I intend now to push for that divorce to finally
happen. I will also involve people locally, across the community and across
the political spectrum, as has always been the case when we have resisted
pressure on Epsom Hospital in the past.

I will come back to your shortly with suggestions about how you can make
your voice heard in this new process.

In the meantime, I have included below a copy of the letter I have sent to
Daniel Elkeles, the Chief Executive of the Trust.

With best wishes

Chris Grayling


Daniel Elkeles
Chief Executive
Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust

By email.

9th July 2017

Dear Daniel

Thank you for briefing me about your plans for a public debate about
replacing the acute services at Epsom and St Helier hospitals with a single,
new hospital for the future.

As I indicated to you when we spoke, I have profound concerns about what you
are doing. When I wrote to you about the issue earlier in the year, I was
clear that I did not agree with your plan to go forward with yet another
discussion about this issue with no clear indication from NHS England that
funds would even be available for the construction of a new hospital. You
have not been able to provide me with any such indication. This has happened
several times before, and it is simply not right to start yet another debate
about local hospitals without this.

In addition, I said that given your preference for building a new hospital
alongside the Royal Marsden, you would need to demonstrate the clear support
of the Marsden board before you could engage in such a discussion. I talked
to the Chief Executive of the Marsden on Friday, and it is clear that no
such support had been provided by the time you briefed me, and the issue was
not due to be discussed until a board meeting later this month.

I therefore strongly disagree with your decision to reopen this discussion
at this moment in time. Since you have done so, though, it is my clear view
that Epsom should now be separated from the debate about the future of
hospital services in South West London and that Epsom and St Helier
hospitals should separate.

Epsom is a Surrey hospital, and as you will know, there have been extensive
discussions in recent months in NHS England about splitting Epsom away from
the Trust and putting it into a network of Surrey hospitals, where medical
staff can gain experience by working flexibly in different hospitals at
different times. Epsom has also been a pathfinder in shaping a new
partnership between primary, community and secondary care, and its
performance has remained very good through a difficult period in the NHS. I
am confident that it has a bright future.

I discussed this issue with the regional leadership of NHS England in the
spring and they indicated to me that they were supportive of this option.

So may I now formally request that you start a process of separation of the
two parts of the Trust, and that you engage in discussions with NHS London
and NHS South to make this happen. This will enable the discussions about
the future of hospital services within London to take place without the
complications around the future of a Surrey hospital.

Given the interest in the issue, I am releasing this letter to the local
media. I will also be making the case that now is the time for “divorce”
between Epsom and St Helier in the local community. I am copying this letter
to the Regional Directors of NHS England, to my local CCG, and to Simon
Stevens.

Yours sincerely

Chris Grayling