Lewisham Residents Rally to Save Hospital from Tory Butchers

Please sign the petition to save Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services and send it on to your friends and family!

Residents of the London Borough of Lewisham turned up in force for a public meeting yesterday evening in Lewisham Hospital, to show their opposition to the plans, announced last week, to close the hospital’s A&E (Accident and Emergency) Department and to cut maternity services and other clinical functions. Although Lewisham NHS Trust is financially healthy, a special administrator appointed by the government is making Lewisham pay for the problems of a neighbouring trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, which was declared bankrupt in summer, largely as a result of horrendous PFI contracts.

The South London Healthcare Trust runs — or ran — Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, and under the special administrator’s proposals, it will be broken up, with Lewisham downgraded through no fault of its own trust, and just one A&E Department — in Woolwich — serving the 750,000 inhabitants of the three boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley.

The situation could hardly be more urgent. If the proposals put forward by the special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, are not defeated by pressure from NHS professionals, lawyers, activists and the residents of Lewisham within the next five weeks (by December 13), the Tories’ new NHS butcher, the sleaze-drenched slimeball Jeremy Hunt (who took over from Andrew Lansley, the discredited architect of the NHS privatisation bill that was approved by Parliament in March this year), will approve the plans in the new year, and Lewisham’s slow death will begin. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham A&E: As Petition Nears 5,000 Signatures, I Tell South London Press, “People Will Die”

As the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department intensifies, with a petition launched by Heidi Alexander MP close to reaching 5,000 signatures in just four days, the South London Press, the bi-weekly regional newspaper based in Streatham, has added its support, with a front-page story in Friday’s edition, entitled, “Join the fight: Save our A&E.”

This is the kind of campaigning spirit that is sadly lacking in the mainstream media, and it is to be hoped that the SLP‘s assistance will help to persuade more people to become involved in the campaign to save Lewisham’s A&E Department, and also to prevent plans for maternity services to be severely downgraded, and for half the hospital to be sold off.

As I reported on Monday, the plans for Lewisham were included in a draft report put together by Matthew Kershaw, a special administrator appointed by Andrew Lansley to find solutions to the financial woes of the South London Hospital Trust, a “super-trust” serving Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, which was suspended in July. The trust’s deficit is expected to reach £207 million by next year, although a third of this is because of rip-off PFI deals for rebuilding two of the three trust’s three hospitals under the last government — Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal in Orpington (the trust’s third hospital is St. Mary’s in Sidcup). As the Daily Telegraph explained, “The PFIs deals are costing the trust £69 million a year … Some £61 million of that is thought to be interest alone.” Read the rest of this entry »

Please Sign the Petitions to Prevent the Closure of Lewisham Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department

Please sign the petition launched by Heidi Alexander MP! And the e-petition to the British government!

On Monday, as I explained here, Matthew Kershaw, an NHS special administrator appointed in summer by the great butcher of the NHS, Andrew Lansley, delivered his draft report on “securing sustainable NHS services” (summary here) — a title laden with spin, as Kershaw’s job was to find a way to carve up the indebted South London Healthcare Trust.

A “super-trust” covering the London Boroughs of Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, which was ill-advisedly created in 2009, the SLHT had accrued a deficit, expected to reach £207 million by next March, which led to it being placed in administration in July 2012, when the Tory-led coalition government’s “Regime for Unsustainable NHS Providers” was enacted, specifically — in the first instance — to deal with its problems, although if the government can get away with axing entire NHS trusts and let in private contractors, then that is undoubtedly what they will do, and what they have had in mind all along. Read the rest of this entry »

Save the NHS: Act Now to Stop the Hatchet Falling on South London Accident and Emergency Services

Please sign the petition initiated by Heidi Alexander MP, and the e-petition to the government. And also please visit the Save Lewisham A&E website for further information.

It’s far too easy, nowadays, for people to sit back and let sweeping and deadly political changes take place because they believe that resistance is futile, but if you live in south east London — and specifically in the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley — that really shouldn’t be an excuse any more.

Under plans to be announced today, the solution to the chronic financial difficulties being experienced by the South London Healthcare Trust, based in Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, is for Lewisham, which has no connection to the trust, to have its A&E (Accident and Emergency) department closed, and for just one hospital — Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich — to run A&E services for the whole of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley (where the A&E department at Queen Mary’s in Sidcup closed two years ago); in other words, instead of three hospitals, each providing A&E care for around 250,000 people, one hospital will now have to cater for 750,000 people in total.

With residents of Brockley, where I live, located four or five miles from the A&E department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it is certain that, if the plans go ahead, then, at rush hour, severely ill people will die before they can get from Brockley to Woolwich. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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