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It's time to tackle the A&E crisis

Home / News / Lewisham news / It's time to tackle the A&E crisis

10 June 2013
Future of Lewisham Hospital Last week a report from the Kings Fund think tank showed that the NHS failed to meet its A&E waiting time target in the first few months of 2013. The number of people waiting more than four hours had almost doubled since last year – a nine-year high.

Since the publication of the report, the Government seem intent upon blaming everyone but themselves for the crisis in A&E. A cold winter, an ageing population, immigration, GPs’ contracts ... everyone and everything seems to have had the blame pinned on them. With adult social care budgets being slashed and with £3bn wasted on a top-down reorganisation, the Government really needs to look closer to home. 

Despite mounting pressure upon A&Es, the Coalition also seem determined to plough on with a programme of A&E closures. 

In Lewisham we are all too aware of the prospect of downgrading services at our own hospital. While the Secretary of State claims Lewisham will retain a “smaller A&E” this is true only in name – our intensive care unit is planned to go, over two thirds of the hospital will be put up for sale  and all blue light ambulances will be sent to other hospitals.

To add insult to injury, those ambulances will be sent to hospitals where performance is generally below that at Lewisham.

Last week I spoke about these matters in a parliamentary debate on A&E waiting times. While I accept in some places reconfiguration of hospital services will be necessary, I made clear in my speech that this process must be driven by what is in the best interests of patients.

The alternative to A&E must be better if people aren’t going to feel the need to rely upon it. Community services must be in place, easily understood and appropriately resourced before we consider closing any local A&E.

Our NHS can only move forwards if we ditch the blame-game and have a grown up debate about real solutions for the future of public healthcare.

I only had 4 minutes to make a speech in Parliament last week – you can read the speech I wanted to give by clicking here (or you can read the abridged version that was actually delivered here)!

You might also like to make a donation to the Save Lewisham Hospital Legal Challenge Fund. The judicial review, being brought by the Campaign and by Lewisham Council is due to be heard in the courts in July. 

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