The Future of Lewisham Hospital

I am very concerned by the Secretary of State for Health’s announcement on 31 January that Lewisham’s A&E is to be downgraded and that the full maternity service will be replaced by a midwife-led birthing unit.

I believe this announcement is tantamount to the closure of the A&E and am appalled by the way in which this decision has been presented.

Whilst a very small number of elderly patients, who need to be admitted for a short period of time, will still be able to treated at Lewisham, all other serious emergencies will have to be treated elsewhere.

As I understand it, the Intensive Care Unit at Lewisham will close and all but the lowest risk births will have to take place at other hospitals. At the moment, over 4000 babies are born each year at Lewisham. Under the proposals announced by the Secretary of State, this could reduce to just 400 births.

Despite spending £5.2M on the Special Administration process, the Secretary of State had to seek additional clinical advice from the NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh. Sir Bruce advised that Lewisham should have a “smaller A&E” and claims that 75% of patients currently treated at Lewisham will still be treated at the new unit. No evidence was provided to back up this claim.

It is also not clear whether the Government still plan to sell of two thirds of the land and buildings at Lewisham Hospital. I am currently pursuing this with parliamentary questions.

The fight to save Lewisham Hospital is therefore continuing. I know that Lewisham Council are considering the possibility of challenging the Secretary of State’s decision in the courts and I would support such action.

UPDATE: Lewisham Council  have now started the process to challenge the downgrade of Lewisham Hospital through the courts. A ‘pre-action’ letter has been sent to the Secretary of State and the Trust Special Administrator, giving Mr Hunt until the 22nd of February to withdraw his decision. If he doesn’t, then the Council will seek a judicial review of the decision.

I also understand the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign are planning to launch their own separate, but complementary, legal challenge against the decision.

It is clear that local residents, hospital staff and GPs do not support the downgrading of Lewisham Hospital. I support action which challenges these plans.

The Council have also set up a Legal Challenge Fund to enable people to financially contribute to the action. All money raised will go to offsetting legal costs. In the event that the donations are not required, the money will be donated to local charity Children First Lewisham.

You can donate here

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