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South London healthcare proposals ‘a hotchpotch’, Lewisham campaigners say

The campaign is likely to continue. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire The campaign is likely to continue. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Thursday, January 31, 2013
12:56 PM

Campaigners have vowed to fight on despite securing a partial victory in their battle to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E department.

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Jeremy Hunt today announced the services will be cut to 75 per cent of their current capacity, rather than axed, as had been suggested by special administrator Matthew Kershaw.

But maternity services at the hospital will still be replaced by a midwife-led unit.

Patients, confused from the outset on why their financially solvent hospital has been drawn into proposals to restructure south London’s healthcare services, were left unsatisfied by Mr Hunt’s conclusions.

Jos Bell, from the Save Lewisham A&E campaign, described them as a “hotchpotch”.

She said: “We are absolutely determined that the campaign will continue because this is going to create an unsustainable model of healthcare in Lewisham.

“Maternity is going to be a state because there is not enough space for 4,000 babies being born in three sites. The key thing is that this is not going to create a sustainable provision.

“To come to the conclusion about it taking two minutes to travel to Woolwich, they must have taken a private jet and flown.”

So far the campaign has marshalled tens of thousands of people to march through Lewisham, organised visible protests outside the Department of Health, and has gained the support of patients and clinicians.

Joan Ruddock, Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, acknowledged in the Commons the part played by the campaigners in the fight to retain Lewisham’s A&E services.

Ms Bell added: “I am sure we would feel that we ran a very intelligent campaign that gained the support of people in Lewisham, once they knew their provision was going to suffer because of this.

“If we hadn’t had a campaign we might not have had an A&E.”

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