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Poor Health Outcomes: Failure to Deliver New Hospital in Surrey

Poor Health Outcomes In Surrey
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Helen Maguire BEM

Prospective Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Epsom and Ewell

The National Health Service (NHS) is meant to provide essential healthcare services to millions. However, in Epsom & Ewell, the state of healthcare, as illustrated by the poor condition of St Helier hospital, highlights a dire need for immediate action.

Seriously ill patients from my constituency in Epsom are regularly diverted to St Helier for specialist emergency care. Yet, St Helier is a crumbling 1930’s hospital that is bursting at the seams and regularly has to issue warnings about overcrowding.

The answer from our local health professionals is to build a new emergency care hospital in Sutton – one which is not only closer to Epsom but also will enable both Epsom Hospital, and St Helier, to be upgraded, to provide their local communities with better care facilities,

But the Government has failed to get on with building the new hospital, which has led to poorer care outcomes highlighted recently with patients, like Janet, facing excruciating delays and substandard care.

Health crisis unveiled: Janet’s Ordeal at Epsom Hospital

Janet, an 86-year-old lady was admitted to her local A&E at Epsom General earlier this year because of sudden abdominal pain and vomiting. She was diagnosed with an acute condition which required treatment by the emergency surgical team. However, the emergency surgery team is based at St Helier rather than Epsom.

She was eventually transferred to St Helier Hospital A&E after 12 hours on a trolley. When she arrived, there were no A&E cubicles, no trolleys nor inpatient beds. She remained on an ambulance trolley for three hours before an A&E bed became available. She was eventually transferred from her trolley to a bed in a ward over 30 hours after she first came under hospital care.

Janet’s case highlights the unacceptable shortcoming in health provision for those of us who live in Epsom & Ewell, Ashtead, and Leatherhead. Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust has fewer hospital beds per 1,000 people than all the major European countries of the EU and non-European countries like Chile and Colombia. In fact, the Epsom & Ewell Trust fares even worse than the UK average (2.43 beds per 1,000 people), with just 1.9 beds per thousand people (Germany has 7.82 beds per 1,000 people). This shortage is not just a statistic – it’s a daily reality for patients like Janet left waiting for a bed on a trolley.

The Government’s commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 offered hope for improved healthcare infrastructure nationwide. Epsom and St Helier Trust was stated to be one of these new hospitals, with £500 million pledged for its development. However, despite the promise, tangible progress remains elusive. Planning permission is yet to be secured, and delays associated with adopting standardised designs have only exacerbated the situation and building inflation has soared in the meantime.

The sorry state of St Helier hospital paints a grim picture of the challenges faced daily by patients and healthcare professionals. Dilapidated buildings, leaking roofs, makeshift repairs, and overcrowding are just a few of the issues plaguing the hospital. Janet’s ordeal, waiting for over 30 hours on a trolley, epitomizes the systemic failures undermining the quality of care.

The deficiencies extend beyond infrastructure to the core functions of the hospital. Inadequate A&E capacity, prolonged wait times, overburdened ambulance services, and insufficient community support contribute to a healthcare system on the brink of collapse. The strain on clinical staff is immense, with unrealistic targets and organisational hurdles further impeding effective care delivery.

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Urgent reforms needed to safeguard Healthcare in Epsom & Ewell:

The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated. The shortage of hospital beds in Epsom & Ewell, underscores the need for immediate intervention. The recent CQC report on St Helier hospital said that it’s services require improvement, highlighting the imperative for investment in the estate. However, mere rhetoric is insufficient; tangible steps must be taken to address the root causes of the crisis – which is the failure to get things done.

The state of the NHS in Epsom & Ewell is emblematic of broader systemic issues plaguing healthcare delivery in the UK. The time for action is now. Delayed promises and bureaucratic hurdles should not stand in the way of urgently needed reforms. The construction of the new emergency care hospital in Sutton is not merely an aspiration but a critical imperative to safeguarding the health and well-being of our community. It is time for the government to deliver on its commitments and provide certainty, to people like Janet, for a healthier future.

The Liberal Democrats passed a motion at their spring conference on this issue – F14- 40 new hospitals, the governments broken promise: https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference/motions/spring-2024/f14

At Chamber UK, we connect the council to the commons, to read more about issues facing local councils click here to read our latest article about central government funding and subscribe to our newsletter.

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