First of all, can I wish you and your family a very happy new year
I am writing to you with a further update about the future of Epsom Hospital.
The Better Services Better Value process, which is the review of services across South West London, has now extended to Epsom and the assessment work is beginning.
I have to say that the whole process is unsatisfactory, and will be unacceptable to residents in our area. I am now planning to step up campaigning against what is happening.
The most fundamental problem that we face is that this is no longer a political process, but one that is being driven by GPs across South West London. I believe that it is right that doctors should take decisions about local services, but the problem is that doctors in Surrey are getting virtually no say in what is happening. The future of Epsom is being decided by GPs in five London boroughs, something I believe is not acceptable.
Epsom is being subjected to a review that was designed to meet the needs of SW London, and where the final decision making will be subject to a vote of NHS doctors groups in five London boroughs, plus Mid Surrey – in other words we only have one vote out of 6. The intention of the review team is to reach a decision by March, and then go to public consultation in April.
I have already received complaints from some local GPs in Surrey that they believe that they have no say in what is happening, and that they are being asked to approve pre-ordained plans. But some of our local GPs are strongly in favour of change – so opinions are divided.
To compound the issue, the review team are continuing to use figures for the level of deficit at Epsom in their presentations to, for example, London councils, that we know are now not accurate. The danger is that Epsom is written off on a false prospectus, and without the chance to really see if there is an alternative for it separate to St Helier.
There are a number of things that people locally can help with.
Firstly, please email your concerns about all of this to the team doing the work.
The contact email address for them is
You should also encourage your GP to do the same if they are worried about what is happening.
The review team is also holding a “scoring” meeting at Epsom Downs Racecourse on the evening of January 15th. Local doctors and local representative groups have been invited. This is not a public meeting. But if you are a member of any local organisation, perhaps in the voluntary sector, which has not been invited, can I suggest that you
and ask to attend. The more people who attend and make their point about the process the better. It is important that this exercise is not able to be presented as an endorsement by the community in Surrey about what is happening.
I will be organising at least one public meeting about what is happening shortly, at which I will invite the BSBV team to defend their actions. I will give you more detail about this shortly.
I am working hard to try to get Epsom Hospital removed from the Better Services Better Value process, and to get the process of finding it a new partner reopened. Since we now know that the financial basis for halting the proposed merger with Ashford St Peter’s was flawed, I think that the process for finding Epsom a new partner should start again. In the meantime, though, we need to put as much pressure as possible on those who are rushing through this new process, in my view to the detriment of Epsom hospital.
I don’t want to underestimate the nature of the challenge, though. There is now pretty broad consensus among doctors in this country that we should have fewer, bigger hospitals delivering better specialist care. I’m not trying to argue against that view, but I do want us to see whether we can find a proper role for smaller hospitals like Epsom without simply closing or massively downgrading them.
This email is going to several thousand local residents, but it would be very helpful if you could pass it on to friends and relatives locally in case they haven’t received it. Please can you ask them to get in touch directly with me if they would like to receive further updates, or details of future meetings.
With best wishes