Decision due on Lewisham Hospital A&E

06:54 31 January 2013

Protesters took part in a march on Saturday past Lewisham Hospital in protest against proposals to scrap the hospital

Protesters took part in a march on Saturday past Lewisham Hospital in protest against proposals to scrap the hospital's A&E department and downgrade its maternity ward. Picture: Simon Way/Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust/PA Wire

The fate of Lewisham Hospital’s A&E department is due to be announced today.

Under government plans the emergency unit could be replaced with an “urgent care” ward, and the hospital’s maternity services turned into a midwife-led unit.

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

The reorganisation proposed by special administrator Matthew Kershaw to deal with SLHT’s collapse is intended to save around £42m from the staff pay budget.

Previous estimates suggested those savings would include cutting 140 medical staff across the trust’s three hospitals.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is to announce today what will happen to the hospital.

At the weekend around 25,000 people march in protest against the proposals.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham criticised the proposed changes at Lewisham, saying: “If that were to be approved, I believe it would set a dangerous precedent to the NHS when the NHS is taking out A&E capacity on the basis of finance, not on care and quality, and that is a line over which the government must not cross.

“What is being proposed is to solve the financial problems in one trust, the suggestion is they take away the A&E of a successful trust next door.

“Now that isn’t reconfiguration on the premise that we’ve been doing it for the last however many years, which is there must be a clinical case for change.

“I’ve seen no clinical case, looking at the wider impact on A&E across south London.

“There hasn’t been an A&E under this pressure where there are already safety concerns. How can you just take out A&E on the back of fairly arbitrary financial calculations?”

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