Row Over Future Of Local Health Services

Council leader calls for health boss to resign

A row has broken out between Merton's Council leader and health bosses over the future of health services in the area.

Council leader Stephen Alambritis has called for the resignation of the Chair of Merton's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr Howard Freeman.

Councillor Alambritis says the latest five year plan for health services in South West London, outlines proposals to "change the way we deliver health services" including the "likely need to reconfigure maternity and neonatal services" and suggests A&E units being downgraded by 2018 with "the introduction of two levels of emergency departments (Major Emergency Centre and Emergency Centre)".

He met with Dr Freeman last week and said he told him that the result of the local council elections, at which the future of St Helier Hospital was one of the defining issues, meant his position as Chair was no longer tenable.

Following the meeting, Councillor Alambritis said: "BSBV (Better Services, Better Value) has been a fiasco and the voters of Merton delivered a devastating verdict. Whilst the local health service were spending millions on flawed plans to shut services at St Helier, Merton's residents have grown increasingly angry.

"The battle to save St Helier was one of the top issues in the election, and local health bosses must not ignore democracy and just carry on regardless.

"Ultimately, responsibility lies with the Chair, and he has to go. His position is untenable, and if he will not do the decent thing and resign, I will be writing to the Health Secretary demanding that he sacks him as Chair. Merton's residents have demanded change, and the Chair needs to respond to that."

But Anne Rainsberry, regional director of NHS England (London), responded: "Dr Howard Freeman is a very experienced and respected clinician, not just across London as a whole, but across the entire NHS and has our full support."

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June 13, 2014