Protesters demand plans to close A&E be scrapped

14:06 26 January 2013

Protesters march past Lewisham Hospital in protest against proposals to scrap the hospital

Protesters march 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

Protesters today marched to demand that “crazy, ill-thought-out” plans to scrap Lewisham Hospital’s A&E department and downgrade its maternity ward be rejected.

A man in wearing bandages on his head joins protesters taking part in a demonstration against the possible closure of their local A&E and maternity services. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireA man in wearing bandages on his head joins protesters taking part in a demonstration against the possible closure of their local A&E and maternity services. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Save Lewisham Hospital estimates 25,000 turned out for today’s protest march.

Under proposals being considered by the government, the south-east London hospital would see its emergency department replaced with an “urgent care” ward and its maternity services turned into a midwife-led unit.

A decision on the plans is due to be made by February 1 by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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.

Protesters want Lewisham Hospital's A&E to remain open. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireProtesters want Lewisham Hospital's A&E to remain open. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

But 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.

Organisers say 25,000 people took part in the demonstration. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireOrganisers say 25,000 people took part in the demonstration. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

“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.”

The campaign group collected signitures for a petition which will be presented to the government on Wednesday.

Organisers said that between 25,000 and 30,000 protesters from all over the country had marched against the closure of the A&E ward, which recently completed a £12 million revamp.

Campaigners carried placards which read ‘Save our hospital’ and sang ‘No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts’ as they filed past the hospital before attending speeches in nearby Mountsfield Park.

Dr Helen Tattersfield, a local GP and chairwoman of Lewisham’s Clinical Commissioning Group, said the whole of the south-east London had got behind the protest.

Local football club Millwall FC brought forward their FA Cup fourth round tie against Aston Villa to Friday night so the game would not clash with today’s protest.

Dr Tattersfield said: “Millwall moved their kick-off especially so people could come on the march and they won, which is great.

“Closing Lewisham Hospital would be detrimental to Lewisham residents in a big way.

“Every single GP in Lewisham is against the closure and thinks it is the wrong decision.

“It is just bad luck that Lewisham Hospital is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“The whole problem is next door in Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich, with South London Healthcare Trust.

“Taking resources from a really good hospital to prop up hospitals that are not performing well does not seem a logical solution to the problem.”

Speaking at the march, Heidi Alexander, Labour MP for Lewisham East, said: “It is insane that people are going to be forced to go to other hospitals which are already very, very busy.

“There is not capacity to be dealing with the people displaced from Lewisham at other hospitals nearby.

“I have a simple message for Jeremy Hunt and that is that he should listen to local GPs, he should listen to hospital doctors, he should listen to the people of Lewisham and he should do what it says in his own manifesto, which is to stop the forced closures of A&E and maternity departments.”

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.

Implementing the recommendations would cost around £313m, while the trust’s debts are expected to stand at £207m by March.

Earlier this month, Mr Kershaw said SLHT remained the “biggest financial problem” across the NHS.

Related articles

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

RAF Tornadoes successfully destroyed a heavy weapons post and vehicle with a mounted machinegun in support of Kurdish troops.

Read more

George Osborne has reached his target weight on the 5:2 diet. Now, about the economy…

Read more

Stinky Candles are becoming surprisingly popular

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

RAF Tornadoes successfully destroyed a heavy weapons post and vehicle with a mounted machinegun in support of Kurdish troops.

George Osborne has reached his target weight on the 5:2 diet. Now, about the economy…

BoJo uses a brick to make a point as he holds his prop aloft at the Conservative Party Conference.

The news surrounding Minecraft of late has revolved around the company’s purchase by Microsoft. Until now.

TOP Stories

40 minutes ago
DJ Neil Fox has been arrested over alleged historical sex offences against two women  (Photo by Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images)

The Magic Radio presenter Neil Fox has been taken off the air after being arrested over alleged historical sex offences against two women.

Professor Gennadij Raivich was given a suspended sentence for sexually assaulting a woman who came to him looking for a sperm donor (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

An ex-professor at UCL who operated a private sperm bank and fathered more than 50 children has avoided jail despite being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who came to him looking for a donor.

16:02
Londoners love free wifi (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

How much do you love free WiFi? Would you give up your eldest child for it? Of course not right? Well that’s exactly what 6 Londoners unwittingly did after being caught out by a security firm.

London Bloggers

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The cast, including Josie Lawrence and Mike Myers

Simon Collins catches up with the improv impresarios, who despite being the world’s longest-running comedy show with the same cast, have lost none of the razor-sharp wit:

Monday, September 1, 2014
Do you really need an explanation for that?! (Pic by Serena Marinelli)

If you’ve ever seen an Italian movie, you would probably know how important body language is in the culture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Don't waste any of your harvest

If you are now inundated with ripe tomatoes, juicy green beans, berries and herbs, don’t leave them to go stringy or mouldy because the freezer can go a long way to making your crops last well into winter.