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Judge urged to overturn ‘unlawful’ changes to Lewisham hospital

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Activists argue the changes will mean local people would have to travel a long way further to get access to vital services. Picture: Simon Way/PA Wire Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Activists argue the changes will mean local people would have to travel a long way further to get access to vital services. Picture: Simon Way/PA Wire

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
2:09 PM

A High Court judge has been urged to overturn an ‘unlawful’ decision to reduce services at Lewisham hospital today.

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Picture: Simon Way/PA WirePicture: Simon Way/PA Wire

Campaigners packed the courtroom where Mr Justice Silber is being asked to rule on two legal challenges against cuts at the south-east London facility.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs in January that accident and emergency and maternity services at the hospital will be downgraded.

The London Borough of Lewisham and the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign argue the decision to cut some of the hospital’s services was ‘unlawful’ and should be quashed.

Opponents say that if the decision is implemented it would result in ‘substantial’ cuts to the services provided by Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust at the hospital.

The demonstration led by Save Lewisham Hospital last NovemberThe demonstration led by Save Lewisham Hospital last November

Elisabeth Laing QC, for the council, told the judge at this morning’s hearing Lewisham was a ‘very good hospital’ and the range of health services provided there was ‘greatly valued by local people and by the council’.

She said the changes would mean local people would have to travel a long, long way further to get access to vital services.

The proposed changes are part of a wider shake-up of services in the capital after the financial collapse of neighbouring South London Healthcare NHS Trust, which went into administration after it started losing more than £1million a week.

Mr Hunt told MPs the changes would improve patient care in south London, saving up to 100 lives a year.

Mr Justice Silber indicated that because of the importance of the case he would be reserving his judgment at the conclusion of the three-day hearing, and would announce his decision later in a written ruling.

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