8:00am Friday 12th April 2013
By Sophia Sleigh
Sutton's GPs will decide next month whether to stop the healthcare review threatening St Helier hospital’s frontline services.
A group of GPs, Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), took over the borough's healthcare on April 1 as part of the controversial shake-up of the NHS.
Seven local CCGs have to make a decision on whether they support the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review’s proposals to axe two regional A&E and maternity departments - widely expected to be St Helier and Epsom hospitals.
It would take just one CCG to decide against the review for it to collapse.
Following numerous requests by this newspaper to speak to the new chair of Sutton CCG, Brendan Hudson, he has finally spoken out about the Better Services Better Value review.
Campaigners are looking towards him as the man who could stop BSBV and the chief executive of Sutton Council and local MPs have written to him with criticisms of the "flawed" healthcare review.
Dr Hudson, the former mayor of Sutton and Lib Dem councillor, said Sutton CCG shared many of the campaigners' concerns and had raised them with BSBV.
In particular Sutton CCG still have concerns about the overall deliverability of the ambitious BSBV review.
Speaking from the Grove Road GP Practice in Sutton he said: "We are weighing it all up at the moment and we want to make sure our patients have high quality services at all times."
He admitted that his patients, friends and family were all "very concerned" about the future of local services and he had been reassuring them that whatever happened they will have access to high quality 24-hour A&E departments.
He also expressed his "surprise" that after Epsom hospital's inclusion in the review only three A&E departments were considered to be sufficient for a population of 1.6 million people.
When asked if Sutton CCG will oppose BSBV he said: "Sutton CCG recognises its responsibilities in this important area and in fact one of our key priorities is in to looking at the Better Services Better Value review and the St Helier Hospital redevelopment."
Dr Hudson said there needs to be a solution to the problem of St Helier's future, its ongoing deficit and the need to rebuild its wards and clinics.
He added: "If BSBV was not the answer then I believe local commissioners will get together and lead on solving these problems - which is what we were created to do.
"It would probably be that we would take forward some of the best bits of BSBV that were agreed because a lot of hard work and diligent work has gone into the BSBV process and many of its recommendations will find agreement across the board."
Sutton CCG are currently considering the BSBV review and are expected to make a decision on whether they think it should go to public consultation at their board meeting on Thursday, May 9.
The meeting will be held in public at 1pm in the St Bedes Conference Centre, next to St Raphael's Hospice in North Cheam.
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