Chairman's Blog - October 2017


At our Open Meeting on 12th September we were given a presentation on the future of the local hospitals. 

It was led by the Joint Medical Directors of the Epsom & St Helier NHS Trust. They are Dr. Ruth Charlton, who is also the Deputy Chief Executive, and Dr. James Marsh. They job share so that they can keep up their clinical practices, Ruth being a pediatrician, and James a renal physician. They were assisted by their colleague Claire Proudlock, who showed us a 10-minute video setting out the issues.  

They are speaking to a number of local organisations to gain the view of residents on the future of the hospital service in this area, in the period from 2020 to 2030. This is an informal consultation at the moment, but the views expressed will be taken into account when they start their formal public consultation. They have guaranteed to continue the level of present service until 2020. 

What came over strongly was the pressing need to build new hospital facilities on a single site for those who are most acutely ill. That hospital would have Specialist Consultants and nursing staff on duty 24 hours a day, and be able to cope with the widest range of conditions.  They have come to no decision as to where this hospital would be situated. The options are to build it at St Helier, or at Epsom Hospital, or at Sutton Hospital (which is currently closed but has the advantage of extra vacant land) near to the Royal Marsden Hospital. 

They said that most of those coming to A & E for in or out patient treatment or for operations do not need such acute services, and what they stress is that these patients (the vast majority) will still be treated at St Helier and Epsom, which would be retained as fully equipped hospitals treating a full range of local services. 

They are pleased that in recent years the service to local people has improved, with much reduced waiting times for people coming to the A & E departments, and a huge reduction in mortality rates. They have also rapidly reduced the expensive reliance on agency nursing staff by employing more full-time nurses. 

St Helier Hospital was built in the 20’s and 30’s and much of it no longer meets modern standards of medicine. It has shared wards, long corridors, and needs major structural work. Most of it is classed as functionally unsuitable.  However, they stressed that this is not being ruled out as the site of the new acute facility. If that is built elsewhere, they intend that St Helier will remain as a local hospital serving the needs of the majority of less acutely ill patients, and will still provide maternity services for non-acute patients. 

Their website at: contains their detailed document. If you want to contribute to the discussion, you can e-mail them on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


We also welcomed to the Open Meeting the new priest in charge at St Saviour’s Church. He is the Reverend Peter Kelley. He is not yet the incumbent Vicar, and for the moment lives in New Malden and is unpaid!  He intends to have a weekly Sunday service at St Saviour’s, and he especially pointed out that he will revive the former practice of having a special service on 2nd November for All Souls Day to which people may wish to come to remember those who have passed on. 

We said that we would be happy to have occasional articles from him and to carry notices of church services. The same is true of any other churches or those serving other faiths. 

John Elvidge




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