The future of Molesey, Cobham, New Epsom and Ewell, Leatherhead and Dorking community hospitals will be decided after a long-awaited public consultation on whether to merge their services with larger hospitals, meaning some wards could close.
Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) consultation on cost savings and other service changes was meant to launch in the weeks after a crunch meeting last September. It will now run until May 5.
The group is offering four options for the public to consider, three of which include possible closures.
Under all four options Leatherhead would become a planned care centre, which the CCG said would mean a wider range of services. Dorking’s services would remain in their current form.
Another option would see Molesey Hospital’s inpatient services transferred to Cobham Hospital, and outpatient services potentially transferred to other areas such as Emberbrook Clinic or larger GP practices.
Molesey, with facilities built in the 1920s, is the oldest of the five community hospitals.
It has a 12-bed rehabilitation ward and provides outpatient physiotherapy, general surgery and urology services.
It sees more than 5,000 outpatients a year with about 200 patients on the ward.
Ken Brown, former chairman of the League of Friends of Molesey Hospital, said: “It’s much handier than going to Kingston Hospital.
“If they decide to close Molesey, the beds will be at Cobham. It’s just not convenient, I don’t know what public transport would be like.”
Paul Kennedy, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Mole Valley, launched a petition to save Leatherhead Community Hospital in August 2015, which was signed by more than 2,500 people.
He said: “It is really all about accessibility.”
Molesey Hospital costs more than £450,000 a year to run, with Cobham costing more than £773,000 and New Epsom and Ewell costing about £514,000.
Dr Claire Fuller, clinical chairman of Surrey Downs CCG, said: “We have spent a lot of time looking at how services are provided at the five community hospitals in our area and we believe there are opportunities to improve care.”
The CCG could not say how much money would be cut overall.
Its consultation document said: “Although this review is not about saving money, as a public organisation, funded by taxpayer’s money, we do need to make sure we get good value for money from the healthcare we buy – and at our public workshops local people told us cost needed to be a consideration as part of the review.”