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GPs vote against closure of local A&E

GPs in Surrey have unanimously voted to oppose the closure of A&E services and a maternity unit, following a ballot organised by local MPs.

Thirty-two GPs in the Sutton area voted against plans to downgrade St Helier Hospital in Surrey, while no GPs came out in favour.

The plans are part of a major review carried out jointly by healthcare organisations including acute trusts, NHS England local area teams and CCGs. It is investigating options for reconfiguring healthcare services across a wide area of south and west London, called the Better Services Better Value Review.

This follows the case in south east London, where health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to downgrade the A&E at Lewisham Hospital was thrown out of the courts, partly because it failed to garner the support of GP commissioners.

NHS Surrey Downs CCG – one of the CCGs in the region - withdrew its support for the reconfiguration of hospital services this month following a separate ballot, while Sutton CCG withdrew support after a separate ballot of GPs came out against the proposals.

The ballot was organised by local Lib Dem MPs Paul Burstow and Tom Brake. Mr Burstow is MP for Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park, while Mr Brake’s constituency is Carshalton and Wallington.

Around 90 GPs in the area did not take part in the vote, but Mr Burstow argues that this is partly because some believed the review plans were on hold following NHS Surrey Downs CCG’s decision.

The consortium behind the review argue that it wants to develop a system allowing patients to experience ‘a seamless service between different part of the system and to get things right first time more often’.

Dr Brendan Hudson, chairman of Sutton CCG said the CCGs in south west London, told : ‘The BSBV pre-consultation business case is now invalid and the options put forward are not going to be put to a public consultation so the MP survey result is not surprising.’