Photos: Victory for the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign

1.8.13

Justice for Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham Hospital campaignersA youthful campaigner for Lewisham HospitalHands off my hospital!Victory!A victory for Lewisham Hospital is a victory for everyone
We won!Victory in LewishamYou lose, Mr. Hunt!Brian Fisher GP celebrates Lewisham's victoryLouise Irvine GP celebrates Lewisham's victoryLewisham Hospital: Here to stay!

Victory for the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, a set on Flickr.

Here are my photos from yesterday’s celebrations by campaigners for Lewisham Hospital — myself included — outside the High Court, and then outside Lewisham Hospital, following a spectacular victory in the High Court after nine months of campaigning.

As I explained in my brief report yesterday, after I returned from the High Court, Mr. Justice Silber, ruling on two judicial reviews submitted by Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, ruled that health secretary Jeremy Hunt had acted unlawfully when he approved plans to severely downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital, including shutting its A&E Department, so that there would only be one A&E Department for the 750,000 inhabitants of the boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley, and cutting maternity services so severely that nine out of ten mothers in a borough of 270,000 people would have to give birth elsewhere.

The judicial reviews were launched when, in January, Jeremy Hunt approved the proposals for Lewisham, which were put forward last October by Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator appointed to deal with the financial problems of a neighbouring trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, in the first use of the Unsustainable Providers Regime, legislation for dealing with bankrupt trusts that was introduced by the last Labour government.

Mr. Justice Silber ruled that “neither the recommendations of the TSA [the Trust Special Administrator] nor the decision of the Secretary of State reducing the facilities at LH [Lewisham Hospital] fell within their powers,” and also ruled that Hunt and the TSA had failed to satisfy one of four requirements for the proposals; namely, that the plans had “support from GP Commissioners” — something that was powerfully explained by Dr. Helen Tattersfield, the Chair of the Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group, in a submission that I posted here.

Commenting on the result, the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign particularly noted that, in his judgment (Para. 38):

Mr. Justice Silber also referred to a pledge made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in January 2013 to Dame Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham Deptford that, in relation to Lewisham Hospital in particular: “What the Government and I specifically promised was that there should be no closures or reorganisations unless they had support from the GP commissioners, unless there was proper public and patient engagement and unless there was an evidence base. Let me be absolutely clear: unlike under the last Government when these closures and changes were imposed in a top-down way, if they do not meet those criteria, they will not happen.”

In response to the ruling, Rosa Curling from Leigh Day, who represented the campaign, and Lewisham Council, said, “When the Secretary of State appointed the Trust Special Administrator to investigate and develop recommendations on the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, he promised that there would be no ‘back-door approach to reconfiguration’ and there would be no reconfiguration of neighbouring NHS services delivered by other NHS bodies beyond the South London Trust. He broke this promise — in fact, his decision regarding south London included a substantial reconfiguration of services delivered by other NHS bodies beyond south London and in particular in relation to Lewisham Hospital. The court has today agreed that the TSA and the Secretary of State has no legal power to do this and has emphatically made clear that this decision should be quashed.”

Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Deptford, and the chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign (who is featured in the photos), explained that she had been overwhelmed by the support from people around the UK. She said, “This is an incredible day. We are delighted for every single person who has supported the campaign and those who will now continue to benefit from this extraordinary hospital. The support from thousands of people in Lewisham is a very real demonstration of the Big Society. David Cameron himself said that there would be no top-down approach to closures and we appreciate the court’s decision which should serve as a reminder to this Government to not forget their promises and not to underestimate those who they seek to represent.”

As I explained yesterday, this is not the end of the struggle — for Lewisham, or for the NHS as a whole — but it is a hugely significant victory that deserves celebrating. It proves that we can defeat the dark forces of the Tory-led government, and the misguided senior management of the NHS, if we believe in ourselves, and refuse to give up. I hope that message will continue to resonate throughout the country, inspiring others to fight this government, who care only abut the rich, and are determined to destroy the state provision of all services.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).

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39 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Shared, Andy. I heard the good news late last night.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, George. Yes, it was a wonderful day. Vigilance is still required, as the government and the NHS senior management are not to be trusted, but we have shown what can be done when people come together in sufficient numbers, and dedicate themselves to what is right.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Great photos, Andy. Great people, too.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Dejanka. Yes, wonderful people. Wonderful people are everywhere, surviving despite the vice-like grip of the heartless and greedy, who are out to destroy us, but what we have shown in Lewisham is what happens when wonderful people get together in significant numbers. When we had that first march of 15,000 people, in the rain last November, it was clear that people had hope – that victory was possible – and that they also had a powerful sense of indignation – because the proposals were so patently unfair. That’s what people need to find up and down the country – hope AND indignation.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Giddings wrote:

    Well done. You’ve worked so hard for this

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. So many people worked so hard – and I’m glad to have stood with them!

  7. Damo says...

    Now we have won this fight but the battle with the foul tories is far from over,we must still keep fighting for every single part of the NHS..my neibhours and myself are fighting Hammersmith and Fulham council(torie filth) over there treatment and care or lack of for people with mental health issues we are chasing these damm agencys who are paid to look after theses poor sods ..but don’t leaving these poor sods to fend for themselves ie our neibhour who can’t cope regularly attempts suicide and is not sectioned for her own safety..these incompetent agencys have left strangers us the other neibhours to pick up the pieces which isn’t fair to the personae with the mental health issues and also to the surrounding people…thatchers care in the community dosent work..these agencys don’t work and that’s why we must all keep fighting.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Damo,
    Great to hear from you, but sorry to hear about how you and your neighbours are having to make up for the failures of the official bodies that are supposed to look after people in need. There will be more and more similar cases until enough of our fellow citizens realise that the current political model of oppressing the poor and the vulnerable, by pretending that they’re all scroungers, is both inhumane and counter-productive.

  9. Thomas says...

    Care in the community is good in many cases, but not for the truly dangerously insane.

    This government now want to make it too expensive for people to get judicial reviews. Hopefully their little yellow helpers the Lib Dems will get so damaged in the 2015 elections as to be rendered useless to be in a coalition with anyone.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that sounds fair, Thomas, although I’d take a Labour-Lib Dem coalition if that’s all that’s possible to keep the Tories out in 2015. It will be interesting to see quite how many seats they lose after their wretched deal with the Tory scum over the last three years.

  11. damo says...

    yeah but were is labour ..god help us ,lol new labour are useless there just like the tories crocked as a barrel of snakes unless they shape up were gonna have the tories back in…heeeeeeeeeellllllppppp

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, know, I know, Damo. It is enough to make us despair.
    There was a good interview with Andy Burnham in the Guardian yesterday: http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2013/aug/09/andy-burnham-interview-thinking-bigger

    The headline: “Andy Burnham interview: ‘We’ve lost the art of thinking bigger’”
    The tagline: “Former health secretary Andy Burnham bitterly regrets letting the private sector loose on the NHS, is unsure about academies – and claims he has the big idea Labour needs to win next time”

    And that big idea:

    Burnham’s plan is to integrate social care into the NHS, so that the same system which takes medical care of us also looks after us in old age. “The simplest way I could express it is one service looking after the whole person. One service looking after the physical, the mental and the social, all of one person’s needs. And I think if we were to make that shift to fully bring social care within the NHS, we could genuinely set the NHS up for the 21st century.”

    And the worry? “He thinks they have only until next spring to present a distinctive economic alternative to the coalition – any later, and ‘the window will be closed.’”

  13. damo says...

    labour have got to come up with something real world credable and workable..and have believable leadership ..not clueless dims like milliband he cant tie his own shoes that one,lol

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    I never despised Ed Miliband, Damo, the way I couldn’t forgive David for being the foreign secretary who worked so hard to hide evidence of torture, but I don’t see who can get us out of this hole right now. The Labour Party won’t understand that the game is up, and we need a vision of a new way of operating, and part of the reason for that is their own history for the last 20 years. Greed is everything, rich people are the best, banks and corporations must be free to do whatever they want – this has been Labour’s message for 20 years, and it’s little different from the Tories or, it now transpires, the Lib Dems. What we want is a fairer, more caring society, with a narrowing gap between the rich and the poor, an end to an economy based on housing and greed, and an end to the ever-increasing racism, xenophobia and attacks on the poor, the unemployed and the disabled, but it seems that right now we’re in a minority. It is, to put it mildly, disappointing. What will it take for people to wake up and rise up?

  15. damo says...

    i love that andy o whole economy based on houseing lol,lol,lol its just so riddiculas..jst crazy crazy we must be the first country in the world to become deindustryalised by corrupt incompetant polotitions both left and right..the whole economy based on selling houses,hahaha or lack of but the greed is out of control fiddleing while rome burns or while the people starve i was reading about the food banks your only allowed to use them 3 times so after time number 3 your going hungry you then read the comments half this is outragouse it shouldnt be allowed to happen the other half is they need to get a job scroungers imigrants ect ect the same hate but its getting more and more vile i read about how the police clearedan abandoned building of homeless here in the uk they confiscated there sleepingbags clothes food..this is what were dealing with now

  16. damo says...

    and dont get me started on how vile the police are at the moment esp the young ones…HONESTLY DEAR HENDON MUST BE TAKEING IN ANYTHING THAT STANDS UP ..REALY DEAR

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo, for your insight and anecdotes. Very funny comments about Hendon police – if only the result weren’t so totally un-amusing. As for the treatment of the homeless, they were below the radar even before the Tories got in with their mission to turn British people into a lynch mob. The numbers are increasing at an alarming rate, but they remain invisible to most people – and the media.
    Anyone wanting to know more is recommended to check out The Pavement, the rough sleepers’ magazine: http://www.thepavement.org.uk/index.php

  18. damo says...

    im affraid andy its gonna get a lot worse [and i wish i could be optermistic] but the government is encourageing buy to let schemes again cue circling vultures and with all the benefit cuts ,sanctions universal credit were gonna have an explotion of homelessness if we havent already it will become like america with tent citys and skid rows..landlords dont wont people on benifits anymore and anyone on hb and other benifits is liveing on a knife edge..they can be stopped at anytime ..we are allready at the mercy of slum landlords and people have no chouise..its funny i met a young torie recently lol and got talking stop press he seems like a niceish guy ..but he had no concept of how you could not have money or have been born into priverlige which he didnt see as priverlige he thought it was normal..he was and is a nieve he is a posh boy but unlike this vile government he wasnt or didnt seem a bastard…funny isnt it

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. Yes, it’s worrying indeed how house prices continue to rise, and yet those who are the least fortunate in society are being squeezed by politicians who have no intention of working out quite how damaging their policies are, because they’re driven by malignant ideology, and personal cruelty. Homelessness continues to rise, while much of the rest of the injustice will be unseen – people working all hours just to pay the rent to unscrupulous landlords who have no laws to abide by, to regulate how much they charge, how they treat their tenants, or what condition their properties are in. It’s a disgrace – and one that is largely hidden, as those in charge of the media aren’t affected by it, and have lost sympathy for those less fortunate than themselves, if they ever possessed it in the first place.

  20. damo says...

    its just becomeing dog eat dog .i read about tennants haveing to bribe the landlord to get there place ie bakeing him a cake practicaly haveing to beg,lol i remember years ago liveing in brighton and meeting this quite frankly mad woman landlord viewing her damp crappy flat it had a miserable little garden ..this fool wanted access at all times to the garden which you went through the bedroom,lol she wanted to come and go as she pleased,lol,lol she also lived above …can you imagine wot a nightmare she is..and it was £800a mounth…but in our upside down gobbledygook economy in this country you know the de industrialised one were selling houses is the economy…these mad people are the ones in charge now,lol

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Are sexual favours going to be part of the deposit soon, do you think, Damo? Friends here tell me that it is normal for landlords to let themselves into their flats at any time of the day without notifying them, which is horribly intrusive, as well as sounding pretty pervy.
    What we need, evidently, is legislation establishing tenants’ rights, but that doesn’t appear to be on the political horizon. We also need rent controls, of course, but that, like a massive social housebuilding programme, would puncture the hosing bubble, and, as you described it, selling houses is the economy, so that’s obviously not on the cards.

  22. damo says...

    lol andy sexual favours are required,lol ive had friendswhohave been come onto by landlords and lettings agency tiks both men and womenwhen theve refused ..no flat well wot a suprise,lol landlords and agency tiks do let themselves in whenever they please yes rents are out ofcontrol we need fair rents acts just like the ones thatcher abolished in 88…the thing is not just for myself but for millions in this country were condemened to a enforced nomadic life constantly moveing and depending on finnaces moveing down the so called property ladder not up it,lol rachman is alive and thriveing.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    If we can formulate these ideas clearly enough, Damo, things might happen. Housing ought to be a right, not a privilege, and it ought to be unacceptable that a rigged market has been created, through absurdly low interest rates, which, in turn, has created a monstrous housing bubble, in which wealth is being transferred, in eye-watering amounts, to the already rich, and the banks, from the less well-off. It’s a prime example of the real “entitlement” that drives Britain – not the supposed entitlement to welfare that the Tories always bang on about, but the entitlement the rich grant to themselves, to keep enriching themselves at the expense of those less wealthy than themselves.
    It makes me sick, frankly, and very angry.

  24. damo says...

    it drives the world andy not just briton ive been watching a very interesting guy on youtube dr cornel west he was one of the black panthers some of what he says is very interesting about wots going on today

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, friends of mine in the States, in the organization World Can’t Wait, were working with him a while ago.
    He was also a signatory to World Can’t Wait’s “Close Guantanamo” ad back in May: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1170/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1275402

  26. damo says...

    why are there so few people like cornel west in this country everyones to scared to speak up and get out there..on mass

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Good question, Damo. Where are the prominent and relentlessly vocal critics of the cruel and greedy Tories and their Lib Dem lapdogs? Our mainstream media is broken, and far too many people, who are old enough to remember the 18 years of Tory rule from 1979 to 1997, have sold out. I think we can date it back to Blair and Brown, when greed and self-interest became the main policy of both major parties.

  28. damo says...

    cornel west gives a great speech on the niggerization of america have a listen andy its on youtube i think wot he,s saying is starting to apply here also

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. Yes, here it is, via the great Democracy Now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEScONfKqFk
    Cornel said, “I call it the niggerization of a people, not just black people, because America been niggerized since 9/11. When you’re niggerized, you’re unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, hated for who you are. You become so scared that you defer to the powers that be, and you’re willing to consent to your own domination. And that’s the history of black people in America. That’s the history of black people in America.”

  30. damo says...

    its not just black people in america its poor people everywere everyone feels niggerized but thank god some of us feel defiant and ready to smash thease fuckers into the floor..but we cant do it alone we need back up from the population but were is it..theres this tide growing of just black bleak dark energy swirling around..peoples minds are so distracted they cant see let alone feel it..bring it on crash the whole thing and lets start again..new life and a better world .

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, good points, Damo – “black bleak dark energy,” and people too distracted to realise what’s going on. Bring on the crash, indeed, so we can start again and have a new life and a better world.
    Obviously, with hindsight, every age that thinks it’s top dog ends up dead, and turned to dust, but I do struggle with quite how much perceptions of life and what it means have changed in my lifetime – no, not even that, just in the last 15 years. The seeds were sown before that, of course, under Thatcher in the 80s, but it’s in the last ten years that the greed has become so deeply embedded that it looks like only something cataclysmic will bring it to an end.

  32. damo says...

    it all started to change after 911 this vileness started to bubble up ,globally we are just notleft alone i feel we cant have 5 mins peace without someone offloading,inflicting,or wanting something esp money of us ..lol…wereever you go,maybe everything does need to crash and out of the wreckege we can start again ridding ourselvesof theaseparasites building a new way ofliveing a new coda for life…..beyond thunder dome,LOL,LOL,LOL

  33. damo says...

    ill have to get some chainlink shoulder pads and a brilliant white mohican tina turner wig ..then i realy will be beyond thunder damo,lol,lol

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha, nice image, Damo. On a more serious note, although I’ve often found myself thinking how significant 9/11 was, I still believe the more worrying development in the last 15-20 years has been the elevation of monstrous riches and greed to the status of godhood, and the commodification of everything, the price tags on everything, the refusal of those in power to recognise the value of all those important, difficult, beautiful things that cannot really be monetarised – love, parenting, caring, creativity, friendship, the common good …

  35. damo says...

    6 yearsago when i returned back to hastings to live i met this old dutch hippie of about 70 he was the real thing avery sweet peacefull guy but he said something that realy struck about this country ..they wont let you live..they just wont leave you alone..they wont money from you all the time everyone does…he was leaveing he had some land in potugal and after 30 years here he had had enuff and you know wot andy he,s right they wont let you live and its not just money its your time your energy your everything..wanting wanting wanting it just seems from the government to i hate to say itpeople every thing is so needy,greedy and clingy random people comeing up to you wanting something esp in london it makes you feel get the fuck away from me,lol,lol we are programmed here in the west ..to want and expect …everything….its never enuff…more more more..we have been conditioned to never be satified never..and its about control…we are bombardedendlessly with crap with junk its never ending and are we supprised why thereare more and more people with ADHD itsoverload and again its about control..we have forgoten or are not allowed to just be still just to live to enjoy the moment to enjoy what we have…theres something affoot andy its like lambs to the slaughter

  36. damo says...

    its just this whole needy greedy thing thats goin on with people we never used to belike this just people you dont know just vomiting the problems over or at you standing with there hands out ..wanting….i find that behaveour just repulsive as dr cornel west says ..you straightened your back up ,got your mind together,loved and worked for your community..were has that gone………

  37. damo says...

    its been replaced by mass delutional selfishness and entitlement

  38. damo says...

    sorry to go on andy dear but on a roll ,lol its just the extreams of society now just my crappy street in shepards bush the extreams from the sterile dead eyed yuppies infesting the place sneering and oozeing nasty cunty attitude to the poor cow of my neibhour crawling along the pavement on her hands and knees paraletic drunk at 2 in the afternoon let down by everyone…its theaseextreams andy its to much

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. Yes, I agree about the money. Capitalism used to leave room for people not to have to be consumers every waking hour of every day, but ever since the ideological battle was allegedly won, and socialism/Communism “failed” and western capitalism “won,” the latter has just got greedier and greedier – and people, of course, have also fallen for the illusion that we are what we consume, and we are what we wear and what we have, and not who we are. You’re right also about the growing gulf between the braying rich and the desperate poor. I don’t know where it’s all going, but it doesn’t look good, does it? Politicians want only to protect the rights of corporations (and their investors) to exploit us further, and people still haven’t woken up to the truth.

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