VIDEO: Campaigners welcome ruling to quash decision to downgrade Lewisham Hospital services

12:08 31 July 2013

Lewisham Hospital campaigners celebrate the High Court ruling to quash a government decision downgrading A&E and maternity services. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

Lewisham Hospital campaigners celebrate the High Court ruling to quash a government decision downgrading A&E and maternity services. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

Archant

Campaigners have welcomed a ruling by the High Court to quash a government decision to downgrade A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital.

One of the leaders of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, Barbara Veale, wipes away the tears as she speaks to reporters after the victory was announced at the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Alain TolhurstOne of the leaders of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, Barbara Veale, wipes away the tears as she speaks to reporters after the victory was announced at the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

Mr Justice Silber today ruled in favour of Save Lewisham Hospital and Lewisham Council, which both brought judicial reviews following Health Secretary Jeremy’s Hunt’s announcement that services at the south London hospital would be downgraded.

Speaking after the announcement this morning Dr Louise Irvine, local GP and chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, said: “This is an incredible day.

“We are delighted for every single person who has supported the campaign and those who will now continue to benefit from this extraordinary hospital.

“The support from thousands of people in Lewisham is a very real demonstration of the Big Society.

Campiagners crack open the bubbly outside court when they found out the decision to cut services at Lewisham hospital had been deemed unlawful. Picture: Alain TolhurstCampiagners crack open the bubbly outside court when they found out the decision to cut services at Lewisham hospital had been deemed unlawful. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

“David Cameron himself said that there would be no ‘top-down’ approach to closures and we appreciate the court’s decision, which should serve as a reminder to this government to not forget their promises and not to underestimate those who they seek to represent.”

Campaigner Barbara Veale received word from inside court of the victory and told the crowd of campaigners gathered outside the High Court, who burst into cheers.

Holding back tears she said: “We’ve won, all the services at the hospital will carry on.

“It’s stuff Hunt, and its stuff the government and its plans to privatise the NHS.”

Raj Gill, right, celebrates the ruling as he leaves court this morning. The campaigner against cuts to NHS services in Ealing called it a 'historic victory'. Picture: Alain TolhurstRaj Gill, right, celebrates the ruling as he leaves court this morning. The campaigner against cuts to NHS services in Ealing called it a 'historic victory'. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

The High Court found that Mr Hunt had acted outside his powers in deciding to cut services at Lewisham Hospital.

Mr Justice Silber said Mr Hunt had acted in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006, when he announced to Parliament that services at Lewisham Hospital would be downgraded and closed.

Raj Gill, from the Ealing Save our Hospital Campaign, was in the courtroom for the decision, and emerged to address the media and other campaigners it was a ‘historic victory’.

He thanked all of the different campaigns against the NHS cuts across London, and said today’s decision would have a far-reaching impact on the government’s plans to close hospital services.

A banner was unfurled when the victory was announced this morning. Picture: Alain TolhurstA banner was unfurled when the victory was announced this morning. Picture: Alain Tolhurst

The MP for Lewisham East, Heidi Alexander, agreed, saying it was a ‘very, very significant victory’.

“It is seven months to the day since the government took the decision to decimate the services in Lewisham to solve a financial problem elsewhere in the NHS,” she said.

“You didn’t have to be a lawyer to know an injustice had been done.

“Today’s ruling has gone someway to righting that injustice, and proved that Jeremy Hunt acted unlawfully.”

Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital group, said: “When the Secretary of State appointed the Trust Special Administrator (TSA) to investigate and develop recommendations on the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, he promised that there would be no “back-door approach to reconfiguration”; there would be no reconfiguration of neighbouring NHS services delivered by other NHS bodies beyond the South London Trust.

“He broke this promise - in fact, his decision regarding South London included a substantial reconfiguration of services delivered by other NHS bodies beyond South London and in particular in relation to Lewisham Hospital.

“The court has today agreed that the TSA and the Secretary of State has no legal power to do this and has emphatically made clear that this decision should be quashed.”

The Mayor of Lewisham, Councillor Steve Bullock, said it was a ‘real victory for local residents and for Londoners’.

He said: “Justice has been delivered.

“I am delighted for the thousands of people in Lewisham who fought so hard to have their voices heard and applaud all those who dared to hope and believe that together we could make a difference.”

He said Lewisham hospital is well-managed and highly respected, and the recommendations to close services should never have been made.

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