THE healthcare trust at the centre of a brewing row about its future says it would do no good to go back to square one.

Carl Shoben, head of communications for South London Healthcare Trust (SLTH), was speaking in the wake of a call by News Shopper for the trust bosses to “pack their bags” and a letter to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley from Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire.

Mr Brokenshire has suggested SLHT be disbanded and its three hospitals handed over to one or more London teaching hospital trusts.

Mr Shoben told a meeting of Bexley Pensioners’ Forum: “I don’t think we need to go back to square one and invite outside providers in to take the most profitable services and close others.

“People will end up having to travel to London to receive services previously available locally.”

Dr Chris Streather who had been due to speak, had to attend an urgent meeting.

There were a number of claims from people about the trust’s A&E service following the “temporary” closure of A&E at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup.

There were allegations of ambulances queuing for up to three hours to hand over 999 patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich; people lying on reception seats waiting to be seen because there were not enough cubicles and some days when the four-hour waiting time was breached for more than 100 patients.

Other claims included a shortage of doctors at Sidcup’s Urgent Care Centre, with waits of more than an hour when patients had to be blue-lighted from the centre to A&E elsewhere, and that stressed staff at the Princess Royal Hospital's A&E in Farnborough were on the verge of walking out.

Mr Shoben admitted the trust’s remaining A&E departments were under pressure, but blamed flu and the norovirus.

He claimed most A&E patients waited only three hours to be seen but acknowledged others waited to long and said the trust was trying to improve the situation.

Mr Shoben said the trust was promising a secure future for Queen Mary’s if it is permanently stripped of its emergency services.

He said Queen Mary’s would remain as a hospital, with a specialist non-urgent surgery centre and a 24-hour urgent care centre for minor injuries.

Mr Shoben added the trust hoped to create a health campus on the site which was partially hospital services and partially community services.

It also hoped to attract services such as radiotherapy there, so patients would not have to travel to London for treatment.

There were accusations the trust was “gnawing away” at other Queen Mary’s services such as the coagulation clinic, and the site was in danger of being sold to developers.

Mr Shoben said there were no plans to close the site.

He said the trust had until March to put forward its plans for Queen Mary’s.