The long term future of Epsom and St Helier hospitals
Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “To ensure we are making the most of our estate and assets, we have looked at what land we have but don’t use, and the areas within our grounds that we will never need. This is known as estate rationalisation, and it’s something that all NHS trusts have been asked to do following the Naylor Report (opens in a new window).
“We have identified some parts of the Epsom site, containing the derelict York House and old accommodation block, as surplus to our current and future needs. If a new acute facility is to be located on the Epsom site we will still have enough land to build it after the sale of this land. It is therefore suitable to sell, and this plan was approved by our Trust Board in April.”
Selling the surplus land means we would have additional money to spend at Epsom for vital improvements, including:
- Building a link corridor between Langley Wing and Wells Wing by 2020-21 (so no more patients will need to be pushed from department to department through all weathers whilst lying in bed). We will also be refurbishing the whole building so we can use it all for clinical and administrative space, hopefully including the new Epsom and Ewell Cottage Hospital too (as per the CCG’s consultation from 2016).
- Double glazing for all of the windows in the main ward blocks – at the moment, some of these windows cannot be opened, meaning the wards are unbearably hot in the summer and there’s no fresh air through the wards. This has been a particular issue during this summer’s heatwave.
- Creating a new outpatient department in Woodcote Wing so that the main thoroughfare in Headley Wing doesn’t cut through small, busy corridors and patients can find their way around more easily.
- Replacing the old steam boilers (they currently need 24-hour-a-day maintenance attendance, and mean that our heating can only really be on or off with limited temperature setting in between).
- Looking to install a new deck car park to create additional spaces.
- Lighting in our wards and areas used 24/7 will be replaced for new energy efficient LED lighting – improving light level and reducing our electricity bill.
Daniel added: “As lots of local people are aware, because of our ageing buildings and the way our services are currently configured, Epsom and St Helier cannot continue as we are forever. To secure a long term future that is clinically and financially sustainable, we need to build a state-of-the-art, brand new facility (on one of our existing hospital sites) where our sickest patients will be cared for.
“Before any decisions are made, there would be a public consultation so that local people can have their say about where they think this new facility should be built. Importantly, we have ensured that we have enough space remaining at each of our three hospital sites to build a new acute facility. Following public consultation, if Epsom were chosen as the site of our new acute facility, the new building would be placed at the front of the site.
“A development of that size will of course take some years to complete, and in the meantime we cannot stand still. We have to sort out the many, many issues we have with our existing buildings.”
As with any plot of NHS surplus land, the Trust has to follow a formal process where public sector bodies are given the first opportunity to express an interest in this land through the Electronic Property Information Mapping Service (opens in a new window) (the central database of Central Government Civil Estate properties and land). Unfortunately no public sector organisation has expressed an interest and the Trust now – as per national guidance – opened expressions of interest to the wider market.
The Trust was, and still is of the view, that this land would be ideally suited to a mixed development that includes social care provision. Basing such a development on the doorstep of a well-established hospital could be of huge help to residents, carers and local families.
It is important to note that as an NHS organisation, the Trust has a statutory responsibility to ensure that any surplus land is sold for the best price possible, and so in sharing details with potential developers the plot has been described in terms of potential size. Describing the plot in this manner is not an expression of the type of development that the Trust would prefer, but to ensure that maximize market value is achieved for the taxpayer.