26 Jan 2013

Lewisham A&E: thousands protest ‘crazy’ closure

Tens of thousands of protestors marched today to demand that the “ill thought out” plans to close Lewisham Hospital’s A&E department and downgrade its maternity wing be scrapped.

The government is considering proposals to replace the hospital’s emergency department with an “urgent care” ward and replace its maternity services with a midwife-led unit.

The closures are part of radical plans by a special administrator in response to nearby South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLHT) going into administration after it started losing around £1.3 million a week.

Much of the anger stems from the fact that SLHT, which runs three hospitals in the capital and was the first NHS trust to collapse – does not have responsibility for Lewisham Hospital.

Campaigners say a “successful and well-run” hospital is in danger of being sacrificed due to the neighbouring trust’s failure.

Dr Louise Irvine, a local GP and chairman of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, said:

“This decision is crazy and ill thought out.

“It is a big mistake and carries huge clinical risks of things going wrong for patients but also political risk.

“If Jeremy Hunt can close a good local hospital here, he can do it anywhere in the country – nowhere is safe.

“This is very much a national issue, there are 60 hospital trusts across the country under threat of bankruptcy, many of them very good hospitals.

“We are saying ‘look at Lewisham, if we can win then you can win’.

“And even if we lose, we will keep on fighting, that is the most important thing.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to make his decision on the plans by February 1.

Lewisham: thousands protest 'crazy' closure