Burstow and Brake to grill Minister on St Helier

October 17, 2006 6:04 PM

Local MPs Tom Brake and Paul Burstow have secured an opportunity to grill Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt over the future of St Helier hospital and of health services in Sutton Borough. The two MPs requested the meeting because of growing fears for the future of health services in the borough.

In September, Paul Burstow MP wrote to Ms Hewitt asking her to assure him that the 'full range of existing health care services' would continue to be offered within Sutton borough. Ms Hewitt's reply, received a few weeks ago, failed to offer any such guarantee.

The Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust, which runs St Helier hospital, needs to find £20 million in savings over the next 2 years. A statement issued by St Helier's management yesterday outlines a plan to close up to 200 beds at the hospital over the next 18 months and hints at redundancies.

A recent think tank report, supported by Ms Hewitt, suggests that there is excess capacity in South West London equivalent to two hospitals. Fears are growing that St Helier will be the first to be closed.

Speaking before the meeting, Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and said:

"It is high time we had some straight answers from the Health Secretary - with short-term cost-cutting measures introduced by the week and rumours of closures gaining momentum, our constituents deserve to know the truth."

Wallington Paul Burstow, MP for Sutton and Cheam, added:

"I will be asking Patricia Hewitt for the guarantees she failed to provide in her letter - that the full range of health care facilities, including Accident and Emergency, will continue to be provided here in Sutton."

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