Epsom hospital to merge with Ashford and St Peter's

Epsom General Hospital sign Epsom Hospital is to be de-merged from St Helier and Sutton Hospitals next year

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Ashford and St Peter's NHS Foundation Trust has been confirmed as the preferred partner for Epsom Hospital.

The formation of a new three-hospital trust for Surrey will follow the dismantling of Epsom and St Helier hospitals trust on 1 April 2013.

The process began last year after Epsom NHS was deemed unable to achieve foundation trust status alone.

Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust said it was still looking for a partner for St Helier and Sutton hospitals.

St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, based in Tooting, south London, withdrew a bid to merge with St Helier and Sutton in January because of "financial challenges".

'Stable future'

Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell, said the planned merger with Ashford and St Peter's hospital trust was excellent news for local people.

"I have met regularly with Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals and I have been impressed with their vision for Epsom," he said.

Chief executive of Ashford and St Peter's, Andrew Liles, said the merger would provide a stable future for Epsom as part of a larger catchment area of 600,000 people.

"We will be able to continue developing more specialist services - such as bariatric and vascular surgery - offering treatments locally in Surrey that previously would only have been provided in the larger London hospitals," he said.

A list of possible options for St Helier and Sutton Hospitals is expected by the end of the summer.

Last month a Scoring Panel of 60 local people, managers and GPs decided that St Helier should lose its A&E and maternity departments, but have a planned centre for elective surgery.

Under the plan, services would be transferred to Croydon and Kingston Hospitals.

But Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam has said the plans "lack reality" and should not go ahead.

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