Guy's unit move 'a waste of pounds 50m'

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PLANS to close the children's hospital at Guy's in London and replace it with a new one at St Thomas's will waste an "unnecessary" pounds 50m, according to campaigners seeking to prevent the closure of the historic institution.

Under proposals to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Health this week by the Guy's and St Thomas's Trust, the Evelina Hospital, whichoccupies seven floors of the Guy's tower, would be rebuilt two miles away at St Thomas's.

The new children's unit at Riddell House at St Thomas's is likely to cost around pounds 39m at today's prices, but that could rise to pounds 50m.

The trust says that the children's hospital must move to follow the accident & emergency (A&E) department, which is expected to close next year and be transferred to St Thomas's.

Rows over plans for Guy's and St Thomas's, the largest NHS trust in London, have caused controversy for the past five years.

Last year, the London review of hospital provision drew attention to the Guy's and St Thomas's plans on the grounds of cost - estimated at pounds 114m by the trust (half to be provided by the hospitals' special trustees) but nearer to pounds 200m by the Save Guy's Campaign - and over the loss of beds, estimated at 100 by the trust, but at 300 by the campaign.

The trust's revised business case is expected to contain proposals saying that, while Guy's A&E will close in the autumn of next year, specialist cancer and renal services will remain at Guy's.

Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman and chairman of the Save Guy's Campaign, met Alan Milburn, the Health Minister, last Monday to discuss the trust's plans.

"It is madness to replace children's wards with administration - Guy's tower is specially designed and equipped to provide 24-hour patient care. If the trust really needs extra space for administration, Riddell House is the obvious choice," he said.

The Save Guy's Campaign wants an alternative proposal, based on separation of planned care and emergencies, to be accepted. The plans are to be handed in to the Health Secretary on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Guy's said that the children's hospital had to be on the same site as the A&E department and that was why the section was moving. She said: "It is actually moving to a purpose-built building. It makes financial sense and it makes clinical sense."