Lewisham Hospital’s A&E services downgraded, maternity axed

11:57 31 January 2013

Protesters took part in a march on Saturday past Lewisham Hospital. Picture: Simon Way/Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust/PA Wire

Protesters took part in a march on Saturday past Lewisham Hospital. Picture: Simon Way/Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust/PA Wire

Lewisham Hospital’s A&E services will be downgraded, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today.

Campaigners hope their protest had an effect on Mr Hunt's decision: John Stillwell/PA WireCampaigners hope their protest had an effect on Mr Hunt's decision: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The department will be cut by 25 per cent but the government has stopped short of implementing original recommendations that it be scrapped entirely.

However, Mr Hunt upheld the proposal, by special administrator Matthew Kershaw, that Lewisham’s maternity services are also downgraded. They will be cut to one tenth of their current capacity.

The recommendations sparked anger and mass protest, culminating in a march and demonstration outside Lewisham Hospital on Saturday.

They were opposed by patients, south London MPs, Lewisham Council, and consultants and clinicians at the hospital itself.

Speaking in the Commons today, Mr Hunt confirmed the proposals to dissolve financially stricken South London Heathcare NHS Trust, which each of its hospitals taken over by a neighbouring trust.

He said he had taken the advice of Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, to consider if they would improve patient care.

Patients with much more serious conditions or higher risk pregnancies will be taken to Kings, Queen Elizabeth, Bromley or St Thomas’ because they are more likely to have a better result.

Mr Hunt quoted figures stating that south east London patients will only have to spend on average, an extra two minutes by ambulance to access these services.

He said: “The longstanding problems at South London Healthcare NHS Trust must not be allowed to compromise patient care in the future.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on paying for debt rather than improving patient care for the local community in south east London.

“What is in the clinical interests of patients in south east London has been at the heart of my decision making process, and as a result I have followed clinical advice to keep open the A&E in Lewisham.

“However, some changes need to be made so that money is spent on patient care rather than servicing historic debt. The decisions I have taken today will ensure that and that patients in South East London will be able to rely on the NHS for years to come.”

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