A Major Opportunity for St Helier Hospital

March 13, 2007 12:47 PM

The campaign to save St Helier hospital picked up pace today, with the announcement that Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, has written to former Conservative Prime Minister John Major calling on him to pledge his support for the campaign.

A report from a leading New Labour think-tank suggests two hospitals in South-West London are likely to close. Sutton's Lib Dem MPs, Tom Brake and Paul Burstow are concerned that St Helier is a prime target and have invited John Major, who was born at St Helier Hospital, to join them to discuss the ongoing campaign with representatives from the Primary Care Trust and Epsom and St Helier University NHS Trust.

Tom Brake said: "This is an opportunity for St Helier's most famous son to lend his support to the campaign and help put something back into St Helier. I sincerely hope Mr Major will put political affiliations to one side for the greater good of the hospital."

Local residents, many of whom were born at the hospital, have been vocal in their support for the Save Our St Helier (SOS) campaign with thousands signing the petition.

Paul Burstow added: "Like John Major and many local residents, I was born at St Helier Hospital. I hope that Mr Major feels as strongly as I do about the future of the Hospital and that he will accept our invitation to meet with local health bosses."

See Letter Below.

12th March 2007

Dear John

You may well be aware of the ongoing plight of St Helier Hospital where you were born and the recent media coverage our Save Our St Helier campaign has gained. The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), which is close to the Government, suggests that at least two hospitals in South-West London should close and I am sure you will share local concerns that St Helier may well be one of them.

Paul Burstow MP and I have sought assurances on behalf of our constituents from Patricia Hewitt that the full range of healthcare services will continue to be provided within Sutton Borough and that St Helier Hospital will retain its Accident and Emergency Unit. As yet, the Health Secretary has been unwilling to provide any such assurances.

In November, several thousand people joined our march to the gates of the Hospital and demonstrated the overwhelming depth of feeling that the potential closure of St Helier Hospital has aroused. To date, over 5,000 people have signed my petition in Carshalton and Wallington alone which I'm sure you will appreciate sends a strong message to the current Health Secretary.

The future of St Helier has been further clouded of late by the departure of two members of the PCT's senior management team, and the recent revelation that maintenance staff at the hospital have been instructed to remove one in three light bulbs in communal areas to cut costs. These developments are indicative of the ongoing struggle to ensure services are retained in the area, an issue I raised directly with Tony Blair at Prime Ministers' Questions on 21st February.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation for you to visit St Helier Hospital with Paul Burstow and me to discuss the ongoing campaign and meet with representatives from the Primary Care Trust and the Epsom and St Helier University NHS Trust.

I very much hope you will accept my invitation and demonstrate your support for patients and the hard-working staff at St Helier Hospital and the thousands of local residents who have pledged their support for the campaign thus far.

Best wishes,

Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

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