St Helier Hospital cuts: Protest against plans

Protesters at St Helier Hospital The mothers are dressing their babies in "Save St Helier" t-shirts

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A group of mothers are protesting against plans to close the accident and emergency unit and maternity ward at a south-west London hospital.

The proposals for St Helier's Hospital are part of the NHS Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review to improve efficiency.

Organiser Kathy McGuinness said the mothers were "outraged" at the plans.

Dr Marilyn Plant, joint medical director for BSBV, said changes would "deliver better, safer services".

The mothers, who recently gave birth at the hospital, are dressing their babies in "Save St Helier" t-shirts to highlight their opposition to the "undemocratic" cuts.

'More consistent'

Ms McGuinness said pregnant mums wanted a local service.

She said: "We don't want extra stress when we're at our most vulnerable.

"And what about the women with no car but several toddlers in tow? We shouldn't have to traipse across London when we're due.

"It's pure madness and south London mothers won't allow it."

The protesters are also having a family picnic with supporters from the campaign, including residents' group Local Mums Online.

The proposal from the BSBV panel is for three hospitals with A&E and maternity units across five sites - Epsom, St Helier in Sutton, Kingston, Croydon and St George's at Tooting.

The BSBV panel, which is made up of local people, GPs and managers, have said the move will improve care.

Dr Plant believes the proposals could lead to more consistent care throughout the whole week by concentrating services like maternity and emergency care in fewer, bigger units.

She said: "We think we have found a solution, but we need to test that with the public and see if they can put forward alternative ways of tackling the problems we face.

"That's why we want a public consultation."

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