South London MPs oppose Lewisham A&E closure proposals

14:14 22 January 2013

Harriet Harman is concerned about the impact on King

Harriet Harman is concerned about the impact on King's College Hospital. File picture: Peter Byrne/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Five South London MPs have penned a letter setting out why they oppose controversial proposals to close Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services.

The recommendation was made by special administrator Matthew Kershaw as part of a solution to fix healthcare services in south east London after the area’s NHS trust racked up debts of £150million. He has proposed the trust, which is separate from Lewisham, is dissolved and restructured.

Labour MPs Harriet Harman, for Camberwell and Peckham, Kate Hoey, for Vauxhall, Streatham’s Chukka Ummuna and Tessa Jowell, who represents Dulwich and West Norwood have joined Bermondsey and Old Southwark’s Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes to oppose the closure.

The politicians, who met with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week, believe downsizing Lewisham would have a “major impact” on services at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell.

If the closure goes ahead, they say NHS figures show 54 per cent of patients who would otherwise have used Lewisham A&E will instead travel to Kings. The statistics also show that there will be 3,235 more births at King’s if Lewisham’s maternity services are axed.

“As it is, there is a small but concerning increase in waiting times at King’s A&E,” they wrote in the letter, addressed to Mr Hunt.

“If Lewisham A&E closes it is inconceivable that King’s would be able to maintain what is a much improved service for our constituents.”

“That will place a further pressure on inpatient beds at a time when King’s management have raised with us their concerns about capacity at King’s.”

The 2011/12 figures are sourced from Kings College and Lewisham Hospital NHS trusts.

They added: “(Kings) say they are already looking to take on extra capacity at Princess Royal in Bromley to deal with outpatients and non-emergency admissions.

“For our constituents - many of whom do not own a car - the journey from Camberwell to Princess Royal in Bromley would mean a journey of at least a bus and a train lasting more than one hour and costing £5.50.”

The campaign against the proposed closure has stepped up a notch as Mr Hunt prepares to announce his decision early next month. A group of mothers and babies in prams converged on the Department of Health in a ‘flashmob’ style protest today.

A Department of Health spokesman said they will consider a petition accepted today: “We appreciate that the recommendations for the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust concern many people from the local community.

“There isn’t an easy solution to the problems. The Secretary of State has received the recommendations from the trust special administrator which he will carefully consider.”

Thousands are expected at demonstration in Lewisham on Saturday, regardless of the weather.

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