Born in Lewisham: The Protest to Save Lewisham Hospital, March 16, 2013, a set on Flickr.
On March 16, 2013, the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign organised a protest and publicity event, entitled, “Born in Lewisham,” outside the endangered hospital — serving a population of 270,000 people — on Lewisham High Street.
The campaign was established in October 2012, when Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator appointed to deal with the financial problems of a neighbouring trust, the South London Healthcare Trust (based in Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley), recommended that Lewisham Hospital — which is not part of the SLHT and has no financial problems — should merge with one of the SLHT’s hospitals, the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich, and should have its A&E Department closed and other frontline services — including maternity — severely downgraded. In Lewisham, this would mean tens of thousands of emergencies having to be dealt with elsewhere, as well as 90 percent of Lewisham’s mothers having to give birth outside the borough.
People will die, as they try to reach emergency services many miles away, at rush hour, and, in addition, no one in the government or in the NHS’s senior management can explain how it is that we cannot afford to maintain the excellent maternity and children’s services at Lewisham that currently serve 270,000 people.
The “Born in Lewisham” event on March 16 followed two huge marches, in November and January (see here, here and here), and although Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, approved Matthew Kershaw’s plans on January 31, judicial reviews have been launched by Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, on the basis that the Special Administrator exceeded his remit when he included Lewisham in his proposals.
I thoroughly endorse the judicial reviews, although I also believe that it is important for campaigners to target the NHS medical directors who are endorsing savage cuts to services across the whole of the NHS, not just in Lewisham, but across London and the country as a whole (also see here).
In the article to follow, I’ll also mention other events planned for the near future, dealing not just with Lewisham, but also with the entire future of the NHS — although it remains hugely important that the people of Lewisham keep up the momentum of the marches in November and January, which attracted 15,000 and 25,000 people. As a banner during the protest on Saturday stated, “A victory for Lewisham Hospital is a victory for everyone” — or, as it could be stated instead, “The loss of Lewisham Hospital will be a loss for everyone.”
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Dejanka Bryant wrote:
I am impressed by those youngsters. They must have wonderful parents and education. Great photos, Andy.
Dez Mundie wrote:
Good stuff Andy.
Thanks, Dejanka and Dez. There’s some very passionate and creative campaigning going on down here in Lewisham, that’s for sure, Dejanka. One thing I’ve loved is how it’s cut across racial, religious and class lines, and that was true on Saturday as well. The campaign has made me very proud of the borough that’s been my home for most of the last 17 years.
On Facebook I posted the photo, “Born in Lewisham Hospital,” and wrote:
This is my favourite photo from yesterday’s “Born in Lewisham” event, to keep pressure on the government and the NHS to withdraw plans to close Lewisham’s A&E, and to severely downgrade other services, including maternity, so that 9 out of 10 mothers in Lewisham will have to give birth elsewhere. All this to pay for the debts of a neighbouring NHS trust that has nothing to do with Lewisham! What a disgrace!
After several friends liked it, I wrote:
Thanks to everyone who has liked this. I’m proud of the photos I took at the “Born in Lewisham” event on Saturday, but I have to give credit to the lovely people of Lewisham for turning up with their hearts on their sleeves – and their home-made banners and placards – to defend Lewisham Hospital and the NHS from the government and from the NHS’s own senior management, who ought to be deeply ashamed of their refusal to defend services. The struggle continues!
i just read how one of the young members of the burlington club at eaton was beaton and ruffted up by members of the public for burnig a £50 note in front of a homeless man..good
How Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson managed to get elected without those Bullingdon photos being used against them only demonstrates what a bent media we have in this country, Damo!
i glanced the foul headline in the sun screeching about free speach complete with a picture of winston churchill..as for the bulligdon boys i would have strung them up from the nearest tree or lampost,lol we need a revolution in this country we need a social cull starting with the biggest benefits scroungers in the land ..namely the WINDSORS,lol
i saw a sight this weekend in ealing ..a blind man sat in the rain begging..while all the shoppers walked on by even charles dickens would have been shocked..is this were we are going…obveousely …yes
Disgusting, Damo. What happened to caring for the underdog? Now we are fully Americanised, and only adore the overdogs instead!
As for the tabloids, I saw them all lined up on the racks today with their foul headlines – not just the Sun; all the tabloids are peddlers of poison except the Mirror.
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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