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Here we have answered some of the most Frequently Asked Questions that we receive throughout our public engagement.                We will update this section regularly to reflect the questions we are receiving during the consultation.
If your question is not answered here, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

1. Couldn’t you just improve the existing services at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals?

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a brand-new Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Sutton to provide emergency care and bring essential services closer to the community. It will be a truly modern hospital for Sutton, designed and built with patients’ needs in mind.

Our vision is to provide great care to every patient, every day. We will achieve this by providing a new model of care where acute services are brought together onto one site in Sutton in a new high-quality hospital building, with a fantastic environment for patients and their families and for our staff to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively.

At the moment our staff face a number of issues every day at both our Epsom and St Helier sites in terms of the facilities. This is because the buildings are old and no longer enable our staff to facilitate the best possible care for our patients. We’re working closely with our doctors, nurses and hospital staff, to ensure that the proposed new facilities meet their needs and are fit for purpose for our clinicians.

There is also currently insufficient capacity at these district hospitals to provide all these services, and the sites are not large enough to allow for easy expansion to increase capacity to the required level.

The new building will also integrate the newest health technology into the design, ensuring it is flexible to meet the changing health needs of our communities, and learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic which has transformed how we work.

2. Why is a new hospital being built on this site? Who decided which site was chosen for the new hospital?

In 2015, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust conducted a comprehensive review of what would be needed to deliver high quality healthcare from 2020 onwards, which included speaking with our doctors, staff and patients. This work informed our November 2017 Strategic Outline Case which set out how creating a brand-new acute facility would allow the Trust to improve patient care and achieve all the additional clinical quality standards we need to meet. At this stage there were three potential scenarios – a new acute specialist facility at Epsom Hospital, at St Helier Hospital, or co-located with The Royal Marsden in Sutton.

In January 2020, a 12-week public consultation, Improving Healthcare Together, was launched asking people which of the three options they felt was best for the community.

In July 2020, following a detailed review of the feedback, a joint decision was made by NHS Surrey Heartlands and NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Groups. They agreed that a new Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (SECH) should be built on the Sutton Hospital site, as part of a £500 million project, with six core services moved to the new site.

This decision was then ratified by the Health and Social Care Secretary in November 2020 following advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

3. Why can’t the new hospital be built at the Epsom or St Helier sites?

Sutton has been identified as the best possible site for the SECH following the Improving Healthcare Together public consultation. We believe that this new facility will enable us to deliver high quality patient care in the best facilities.

NHS Surrey Heartlands and NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Groups agreed and took the decision that this was the best course of action. This decision was then ratified by the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, following advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

The plans will also see at least £80 million spent at both Epsom and St Helier hospitals to invest in essential repairs and refurbishments and enable those hospitals to focus on delivering excellent elective care.

Whilst six major services are moving to the SECH, 85% of our current services are staying at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals. Additionally, both sites will have urgent treatment centres open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

4. What stage are the plans at and when will the SECH be built?

After working closely with our doctors, nurses and hospital staff to help develop the early designs of the new hospital and to ensure that the new facilities meet their needs and is fit for purpose for our clinicians, we are now ready to show our initial designs to the local community.

This is the first phase of our planning consultation where we are asking for people’s views and feedback on the initial designs before they are developed further, and a planning application is submitted later this year. If approved, construction of the multi-storey car park would start in mid-2022, with the main hospital works to follow in 2023.

We would welcome your feedback and comments on the proposals.

5. How many beds will the new hospital have?

The new hospital will have 512 beds.

6. Will COVID-19 have an impact on how the new hospital is designed?

In response to a rapidly changing healthcare environment and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to make sure the new hospital is flexible, adaptable and easy to get around. The new layout, with its central entrance and closely connected clinical departments, will enable quicker diagnosis and mean patients spend less time travelling around the hospital and instead receive the care they need in one place.

We have designed the building to allow for separation of COVID and non-COVID patients with separate entrances and patient flows, and key departments will also have in-built resilience to adapt and allow for effective operations in the event of future pandemics. With 75% of rooms designed for single occupancy, this further helps to keep patients separated to support infectious disease control.

We are looking into integrating some of the newest health technology into the design, ensuring it is flexible to meet the changing health needs of our communities, and learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic which has transformed how we work.

7. How high will the SECH be?

We have designed the SECH to be sensitive to the local area taking into account the surrounding houses.

The tallest part of the SECH will stand at nine storeys with this part of the building located towards the centre of the site away from the nearby houses on Cotswold Road. The building will then ‘step-down’ towards these houses reducing in height to seven storeys.

8. Has consideration been given to impacts on light and privacy to residential properties?

The proposed design of the SECH takes into account the surrounding houses and we are aiming to minimise the impact on light and privacy for those properties in close proximity, whilst also proposing a design which delivers the necessary facilities and services required by the Trust.

The building has been designed to be have the greatest volume in the centre of the site, which is furthest away from the residential properties. The SECH then steps down in height to the East (next to Cotswold road) and also to the South (closest to Bicknoller Close) to address both light and privacy to the residential properties.

Sun path studies along with acoustic impact assessments have been conducted used attempt to mitigate the impact of the proposal on the local residents. We will also be conducting studies to assess the impact of the proposals on nearby properties to ensure that we reduce this as much as possible.

9. Green space, access to nature and views of nature are crucial for the physical, psychological emotional and wellbeing of all who use the building. Will you ensure sufficient gardens, nature and green space are designed in around the hospital?

We asked staff how we can improve their working environment and provide an enjoyable place to work which supports them, fostering their well-being and sense of professional pride. In response to their feedback, we have designed the hospital to provide a greener environment with more natural light and green spaces.

Courtyard gardens and green terraces will be created to maximise green space and provide patients, visitors and staff with places to relax which can benefit their wellbeing. These spaces will include natural and organic planting, including trees where appropriate.

Our proposals include an extensive landscaping plan developed by specialists to ensure that we maximise green spaces which create a calm environment that supports health and well-being, and aids recovery for our patients. Landscaping plans are at an early stage and we would welcome your thoughts on what we could provide to make the hospital as peaceful an environment as possible.

 This improved landscaping and commitment to green spaces will also make the hospital more appealing to neighbours and people passing by, and we intend to retain existing trees near the main access points to reduce the visual impact.

10. How tall will the multi-storey car park be?

It will be four storeys, in keeping with the wider context of the local area and has been sensitively designed to reduce any impact on our neighbours.

11. How many car parking spaces will there be?

In total the car park will provide a total of 800 spaces, of which around 300 will be allocated to the Royal Marsden Hospital.

There will be an increase in the number of spaces currently available on the site of around 500 spaces and the new car park will be providing spaces for those patients and staff coming to the SECH as well as re-providing spaces for patients and staff visiting or working at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

There will be 40 spaces designated disabled parking and there will also be a provision of EV charging spaces in line with the London Plan (1 in 5 to be active or passive EV parking) and we are looking at provision of charging facilities for e-bikes to further encourage sustainable travel.

12. Will there be enough car parking spaces on the site given the number of people that will be visiting in the future?

We have calculated the number of spaces that will be required based on expected patient and staff requirements and taking account of the RMH’s existing parking. In addition to this, we have held conversations with Transport for London and utilised their most recent research into future transport provision and requirements in Sutton.

 Based on this, we believe that the proposals for the multi-storey car park will adequately serve the SECH as well as the other facilities. We have also been working closely with the other landowners to understand their needs.  

13. What kind of security will be included across the development site?

Through good design and varying stakeholder engagement, we seek to create a safe and secure working environment for patients, medical professionals and visitors, the provision of which should significantly reduce the opportunity for crime. 

The recommended security solution for SECH is a fully unified system that incorporates and brings together all the proposed security technologies into one, simple to use interface. A layered and combined approach is being proposed that incorporates physical, electronic and operational measures.

The following overarching technologies are being proposed (amongst others):

  • Internal & External HD IP CCTV
  • Electronic Access Control
  • Hi-def Audio & Video Intercoms
  • Panic Alarms
  • Hostile Vehicle Mitigation measures
  • Anti-climb fencing
  • Security Control Room

The new car park will have 24-hour CCTV installed covering internal and external spaces as per the Park Mark guidance and will meet best practice for safer parking principles. These principles include well defined site boundaries, interior and exterior lighting levels, and clearly defined pedestrian routes with natural surveillance or CCTV.

14. How will the SECH be accessed by cars and ambulances?

We are carefully considering the routes into and out of the site and our proposals will ensure that access to the site is designed in the best possible way, making it easy for patients, visitors, staff and emergency vehicles to access the SECH.

Our current plans propose that blue light access to the hospital will be directly from Cotswold Road, with the ambulance drop off facility located to the south of the emergency department. The blue light entrance will be combined with Emergency Department drop-off, whilst the visitor’s entrance will be kept separate to ensure that there is no delay to ambulances accessing or leaving the SECH. 

A range of options are being considered for the provision of the main visitor’s entrance to the new hospital as well as the wider site for those visiting the Royal Marsden as well as the future Oak Cancer Centre. We are working closely with Sutton Council and the other landowners to agree the best way for people to access the whole site.

We are in discussions with TfL and await the outcome of the Sutton Bus Consultation plan (December 2020) which aims to increase and enhance frequency of bus service provision in the area and to respond to planned development (including LCH and new emergency care hospital. 

We will also be ensuring that the routes through the site, whether travelling by car, on foot, by bike, or via public transport, are well planned and provide easy access to the main entrance of the SECH. This includes creating a pedestrian route from the new car park to the hospital entrance.