MP Chris Grayling has demanded the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) team publish detailed evidence about how financially viable their plans for the future of acute services are, after slamming their "back-of-an-envelope" approach to the process.
Speaking to the Epsom Guardian after a heated meeting on the threatened hospital’s future last night, which was attended by 500 people, Mr Grayling said he has again written to the BSBV team to ask them to publish a range of detailed documents before it announces its recommendations next Thursday.
Mr Grayling believes the public needs to see details of capital spending and the work that would be needed to transfer services from five hospitals to three.
He also wants the BSBV team to publish details about the potential impact on Surrey’s hospitals and ambulance services, and about travel times from the area to potential sites where future acute services would be located.
Mr Grayling said: "The fact we had the whole of Blenheim High School’s hall and the canteen absolutely packed and people were turned away by the police outside indicates how people feel about this issue.
"In order to come up with a credible argument for change, the GPs and doctors involved in BSBV have to have a set of proposals that are credible.
"Rushing everything through in two months leaves everyone with the conclusion that they have not done their homework at all.
"Have they actually properly costed what they are talking about?
"If you take maternity services, there are 5,000 plus births in Epsom and St Helier a year.
"The BSBV are talking about building a brand new, stand-alone maternity care unit. Is the capital there to do it?
"We are yet to see a proper, thorough assessment backing up what the BSBV team wants to do. I am not convinced it is there.
"This is all being done on the back of an envelope."
Mr Grayling said the responses made by the BSBV team to the public’s questions at last night’s meeting were "very insubstantial and lacked detail" and repeated his call for the BSBV process to be stopped and re-started.
When asked whether residents disagree with the principle of improving standards of care by developing centres of excellence as part of a future vision for the NHS, or the way in which the BSBV process has been conducted, Mr Grayling said: "You can’t have the argument about what is best without the evidence with which we can actually get there.
"And when the argument involves practical changes to services it is doubly important how we can get to that point.
"Genuine and legitimate debate needs to be had about what the future of healthcare needs to look like but what they can’t do is march in stage left and say ‘this is what we’re going to do’ and just announce the downgrading of hospitals."
Mr Grayling also dismissed protesters from the Save Our Hospitals campaign who branded him a traitor at last night’s meeting as "political troublemakers".
He added: "The people who came to protest have no link to the area, they were left-wing activists from Kingston and what they were saying was nonsense."