Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in Sutton have reacted angrily to the news that St Helier hospital will lose its maternity and A&E units - and have condemned the new Conservative MP for Carshalton & Wallington for supporting the plans. The proposals were unveiled today by NHS bosses, following a consultation which began earlier this year.
In February, Mr Colburn wrote to the Health Secretary, declining to support St Helier as the preferred option for a new acute hospital, and instead supporting the Conservative MP for Banstead in moving these services closer to Surrey.
Councillor and St Helier local resident Jean Crossby, said:
"I am devastated by the announcement today. I have lived on St Helier for 43 years, 8 of my grandchildren and 5 of my great grandchildren have been born at St Helier hospital along with many visits to A&E throughout the years.
For 22 years, Tom Brake moved heaven and earth to protect St Helier Hospital on behalf of the local community - but after just 6 months of our new Conservative MP, that work has been completely undone. Mr. Colburn's own website boasts that "St Helier will always be my top priority" but I'm sure that residents didn't realise that his top priority was to downgrade it.
"We have always feared what would happen to St Helier hospital if a Conservative MP was elected in Carshalton & Wallington - and now we know. The downgrading of St Helier is something that we will never let him forget - it takes away key services from the most deprived part of our borough and puts the long term future of the hospital at risk.
Hina Bokhari, Lib Dem spokesperson for Sutton & Cheam said:
"My husband and children were born in St Helier, so for me this is personal. The Liberal Democrat record in protecting St Helier is a proud one - working hard with local residents to successfully save the A&E and Maternity Units from closure, securing £28 million of improvements along the way, including refurbished wards, new windows, a new Eye Unit and much more.
"Despite these proposals - and unlike our Conservative MPs - we won't be giving up on St Helier Hospital"