Thursday, March 22, 2007

And Another Thing

Blasted across our local paper tonight is the happy news that our local hospital (where all four of the children were born) is likely to be closed down. Our local MP, Chris Grayling (and to be fair ALL the local politicians have done their bit whatever their party) has fought an heroic campaign to keep it open.

To cut a long story short at some point who knows when, the power that be decided to yoke our local hospital, Epsom, which supports not just the town, but outlying towns as far away as Cobham together with St Helier, five miles away. St Helier serves the communities of Sutton, Merton and beyond up to St George's in Tooting. I don't recall any public consultation about this, but one day, suddenly we were part of Epsom and St Helier Trust.

Some time back Epsom and St HelierTrust decided they were going to build a Super Hospital in Sutton, and downgrade both St Helier and Epsom. This wasn't a plan favoured by either community- although the distance between them may seem slight, in heavy traffic it can take forty minutes or more to get from one to the other. (Transport to and from St Helier is particularly bad - we've had personal experience of getting there every day for three months when fil was ill). Besides, both communities deserve and need their hospitals.

But the PCT decided that we all needed a brand new shiny hospital in Sutton at god knows what cost. Unsurprisingly, this decison was not met with favour from either community, and quite rightly, there were protests from both sides. Then Patricia Hewitt had her ear bent by the MP in Merton (funnily enough a Labour MP, Chris Grayling is a Tory) and lo and behold when the decision was taken as to where to build the Super Hospital (Chris Grayling had come up with a plan to upgrade Epsom at far less expense), overnight the decision was made to resite it in St Helier. I can't remember her exact words, but they were along the lines that the posh people in Surrey could afford to do without a hospital because presumably we all have private health care (let me let you into a secret Patricia, no we, don't. Just as most of us can't afford private education either).

It then turned out that St Helier wasn't a suitable site to build a Super Hospital on. The shameful bunch who were running the PCT and mooted the Super Hospital in the first place have all lost their jobs (and HOW much money have they spent I wonder?), and now the company bought into bail everyone out of the mess has dumped the idea of a Super Hospital and instead St Helier and Epsom are both being downgraded.

There is a tiny glimmer of hope in that the High Sheriff of Surrey, a philanthropic sounding chap has come up with a proposal for buying Epsom hospital and running it as a hospital which provides a mix of NHS, private and charity funded healthcare, and next week Chris Grayling and Mole Valley's MP, Paul Beresford are off to meet Patricia Hewitt to discuss the scheme. But I doubt from past form she will bite.

So it looks like we will no longer have a maternity unit (at a time when building in the town is at an all time high - erm scuse me for stating the obvious, but if you build lots of new homes, you might just end up with lots more families), no acute care, very little provision for the elderly (and a growing elderly population), and should my children break their arms and require operations (as happened to no 2), or have an asthma attack and have to stay in hospital for several days (as happened to no 2 and no4) we will probably end up at St George's nearly ten miles away.

I know of at least two children who suffer from diabetes, whose parents rely heavily on the diabetes clinic attached to the hospital.

Many of the mums in the school playground work there as nurses, midwives and physios.

Morale at the hospital is at an all time low. And from what I gather from friends up and down the country, Epsom isn't an isolated case.

Gordon and Tony, where has all the money gone? It certainly hasn't come this way....

There is a petition to sign on the no 10 website (I have a feeling that very soon one of my few pleasures in life is going to be wasting the time of people at no 1o!), which you can access on:

and a wonderful retired paramedic by the name of Ken Callanan has collected 76 000 signatures for the Surrey petition to save Surrey hospital services. He's aiming for 100 000 and is planning to hand it in to Downing Street at the end of April. If you want to help him, and live/or work in Surrey he can be emailed at:

And on a personal note, can I just say thanks to all the staff at Epsom and St Helier hospitals for the care they have given me and my family over the years.

So the role call of thanks goes to:

The amazingly kind nurse who looked after me years ago when Spouse unexpectedly had to to have an operation.

All the staff who helped me when I had to have a minor op.

The wonderful Dr Jay who delivered no 1 and all the wonderful midwives who looked after us.

The equally wonderful Shirley Tong who delivered nos 2 &3, who saved my sanity, particularly with no 3.

Miss Ellis who listened to my concerns about having no 4 and ensured with the help of some amazing midwives (whose names unfortunately I forget) that I had a brilliant experience for my last labour.

All the doctors and nurses in Casey Ward who over the years have:

dealt with no 2's trips to hospital with asthma

no 2's broken arm. Particualrly the lovely consultant who was so kind when I got ever so slightly stressed by the thought of her needing an operation

dealt with no 3's three trips to hospital with asthma.

And particular thanks go to lovely Dr Wadey who kept an eye on no 4 for two years after her admissions and also took my concerns about no 3 seriously.

They are heroes everyone and deserve to keep their jobs and go on doing the vital work they do in keeping my community going.


Mad Twin said...

I agree - complete madness to let your local hospital go. Don't put this one down to socialism though, Patricia Hewitt ain't one of those. She is the business end of the Labour Party (the part that likes to cosy up with private companies and thinks the public sector a waste of money) and does not know her medical arse from her elbow. In a run of really terrible NHS secretaries - she has to be the worst (&that is a pack that includes John Reid). God Forbid that they'd give it to someone who actually knows something about health as Tessa Jowell does (& whatever you think of her, she really does know her onions which is why she has been pushed over to leisure and tourism).

You ask where the money went? 2 places - PFI (Perfect F*****Incompetence) the deal with the devil that has sold off any long term future we had in the NHS (We pay private companies to build hugely expensive unnecessary new buildings over budget, over due, half of which don't get to be used, and then we pay for them forever and still don't get to own them - how's that for value for money)And although you may disagree, the £76 billion that has been spent on the war so far may also have had something to do with it (see

Good luck with your campaign, shame you don't have a local Labour candidate on a marginal seat to help you - witness creepy Hazel Blairs trying to defend local NHS services when the penny dropped her seat was on the line.

Mad Twin (more hopping mad then ever)xxxxx

Jane Henry said...

PH may not be into socialism, but when she was asked to pass the super hospital site in Sutton (which had been approved after a laughable public consultation exercise - most of the public saying no, they DIDN'T want it), she suddenly changed tack and moved the location to St Helier. IT was definitely the Labour MP at MErton who swung it. And it is hard not to see this as a party political decision. PH had no idea of the situation on the ground and just saw St Helier in middle of crummy council estate, Epsom in middle of leafy Surrey. We are the rich bastards who don't deserve healthcare. I haven't been able to dig out what she said, but the implication definitely was that we didn't need a hospital and Carshalton does. Which is crazy as BOTH communities do.

I really think we're stymied on this one.

Chris Grayling has worked ceaselesly since before he was elected to try and prevent first the downgrading of Epsom Hospital and now it's closure. He has been absolutely heroic about it, and worked closely cross party with the Lib Dems and the Labour candidates at the last election. The politicians who have been bloody useless about it have been the local council (no surprise there).

And we shouldn't have to have a Labour MP to make the right choice.

Mad Twin said...

Ah t'was ever thus - political parties help their own. I agree with you that it's all pretty disgusting and shame on the lot of them. (I do think most of "new" labour is "old" tory really. Somewhat ironic that it is often "old" tories like your local MP trying to save the NHS these days..........never thought I'd see the day)

they're all tossers really, that's why I vote green or do the anarchist thing and not vote at all!

Nic said...

The world has, indeed, gone mad