Plans due to be published next month could see 650,000 extra people in south-west London depending upon the already under-pressure Mayday, Kingston and St George’s hospitals for their urgent and specialist medical care.
The Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust is working on plans to “reconfigure” hospital services, with a 800-bed “centre” thought likely to be proposed as a replacement for three hospitals – Sutton’s St Helier, Epsom, and Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children.
The three hospitals in neighbouring Sutton and Surrey currently serve a population of approximately 500,000 people, many of whom would be forced to seek medical care elsewhere – such as in Croydon – if the Trust’s “reconfiguration” gets the go ahead.
If the Trust goes ahead with its proposed reduction in beds to 800, this will mean a ratio of 1.23 hospital beds per 1,000 people – a worse provision ratio than Colombia. The UK average hospital provision is 2.76 beds per 1000 people, which according to OECD research is already worse than most other European nations.
The chief executive of the Trust, Daniel Elkeles, has said that they do not intend to maintain the current ratio of beds per thousand, despite seeing a record number of patients recently, and failing to meet A&E waiting time targets for the last six months.
Campaigners from KOSHH – Keep Our St Helier Hospital – has voiced fears that Elkeles’ “rationalisation” – or what might be called in plain English “closures” – could be even worse for NHS patients, since the Trust appears to have plans for many of the beds at the proposed centre to be allocated for private practice use.
KOSHH has reported that, “At the ‘Estates Event’ on March 19, the Trust told the public repeatedly that they would like 50 per cent of the new beds they plan to be ‘Private Rooms’. They later apologised for having used the word ‘Private’ when they claim to have meant ‘Single’.
“Since Trusts can make 49 per cent of their income from private patients, this might leave NHS patients in our area with only 400 beds, which would equate to only 0.61 NHS beds per 1,000 people.”
Keep Our St Helier Hospital is staging a free screening of Sell Off – The abolition of the NHS at Ruskin House, Coombe Road, Croydon, next Monday May 23. The film will be followed by a discussion session.
The screening is due to begin at 7.45pm.
Ruskin House is at the junction with Park Lane, a 10-minute walk from East Croydon station.
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