Save Lewisham Hospital: Photos of the Huge March on January 26, 2013

Proud to be born in Lewisham HospitalMillwall FC says: Save Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham's A&E and MaternitySave Lewisham Hospital: a family protestsMedical staff protest to save Lewisham Hospital
The front of the Save Lewisham Hospital marchHospital staff campaign to save Lewisham HospitalOld-school nurses say, "Save A&E. Hands Off"We need our A&EMust kids die for PFI?Save Lewisham Hospital: Protest Shuts Town Centre
Hospital workers prepare to march to save Lewisham A&EProtestors queue for the march to save Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham Hospital: ready to go!Save Lewisham A&E: PFI puts profits before peopleDavid Cameron: he's got to goSave Lewisham Hospital: placards on Lewisham High Street
Save Lewisham Hospital: protestors on Lewisham High StreetSave Lewisham Hospital: the crowd on the grassy knollSave Lewisham Hospital: looking up Lewisham High StreetSave Lewisham Hospital: the march sets offSave Lewisham Hospital: Unison balloonsSave Lewisham Hospital: the march

Save Lewisham Hospital: The Huge March on January 26, 2013, a set on Flickr.

On January 26, 2013, in Lewisham, in south east London, I took these photos of an extraordinary demonstration, in which an estimated 25,000 people marched from the centre of Lewisham, past Lewisham Hospital and up George Lane to Mountsfield Park in Catford to save Lewisham Hospital from having its A&E Department closed, and other services severely downgraded, including its maternity services.

It was one of the most exhilarating protests I have ever taken part in, a worthy successor to the one in the driving rain on November 24, when around 15,000 people showed up, providing the first thrilling indication that, in attacking the NHS in Lewisham, the government and the wrecking crew in the NHS’s management had sparked a movement of resistance that was spreading like wildfire throughout the borough and beyond. Yesterday, it felt like a continuation of that initial impulse — that something had been sparked which was finally waking people up to the understanding that, although politicians and bureaucrats wield often considerable power, and generally show disdain for us, in the end we are many and they are few. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital: We March Again This Saturday, January 26 – Let’s Make It Massive!

Please come to the demonstration to save Lewisham Hospital this Saturday (January 26), and please also send health secretary Jeremy Hunt a quick email, via 38 Degrees, to ask him to save the hospital.

This Saturday, January 26, a huge protest is taking place in the London Borough of Lewisham, in south east London, in a last show of outrage before Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, makes a decision about whether or not to close Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department — leaving just one A&E, out in Woolwich, for the 750,000 people in Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley — as advised by Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator appointed by Hunt’s predecessor, Andrew Lansley, to deal with the debts of a neighbouring NHS Trust.

Those concerned by this devastating assault on NHS services for the 250,000 people of Lewisham are requested to meet at Loampit Vale roundabout at 12 noon, for a march past the hospital to Mountsfield Park, where there will be a rally, music and a giant petition! Please, please come along if you can!

We know, from the huge turnout for the march to save Lewisham Hospital on November 24 (see my photos here), that the people of Lewisham can show the government what resistance is, when they are provoked, as they have been by these wretched proposals. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people turned out in the driving rain to oppose the plans to shut the hospital’s A&E Department, to cut other services, including intensive care and maternity services, and to sell off 60 percent of its buildings, leaving just the A&E Department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich to serve the needs of everyone in Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital: Last Chance to Respond to Consultation – and Vigil on Thursday

For Lewisham residents, and residents of any other boroughs in south east London who are concerned about the future of the NHS, Thursday December 13, 2012 — tomorrow, as I write this — is a very important day. By midnight tomorrow, anyone wishing to respond officially to the disgraceful proposals to shut Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department needs to have submitted their responses. And before that deadline, between 4 pm and 7 pm, there will be a torchlit vigil outside Lewisham Hospital, which everyone is encouraged to attend!

It is too late to post your response, but you can still email your responses, although the best way to respond by far is to fill in the response on the website of the Special Administrator appointed by the government to deal with the debt-ridden South London Hospital Trust, based in Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, which is largely in debt because of outrageous PFI deals. To help you, the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign has provided a step-by-step guide, and Dr. Louise Irvine, a local GP who has campaigning tirelessly against the proposals, has also provided a useful guide here.

Please do this now, if you haven’t already! Now! Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital: Photos of the Protest and Sham Consultation on December 4, 2012

Save Lewisham Hospital: A child protestsSave Lewisham Hospital: The protest on December 4, 2012Save Lewisham Hospital: Protestors outside the Calabash CentreSave Our Local NHS HospitalsBorn at Lewisham: the children campaigning to save their hospitalHands off our hospital
Protest to save Lewisham HospitalThe sham consultationMatthew Kershaw under pressureMatthew Kershaw speaksEmergency: Lewisham Hospital under threatLewisham A&E
Make sure you're heard

Save Lewisham Hospital: The Protest and Sham Consultation on December 4, 2012, a set on Flickr.

Yesterday evening, following on from the demonstration on November 24 that attracted 10,000 to 15,000 supporters, many hundreds of Lewisham residents converged on the Calabash Centre, on George Lane in Catford, in the London Borough of Lewisham, to hear — or mostly to confront — Matthew Kershaw, the NHS Special Administrator appointed to deal with the financial problems not of Lewisham, but of the South London Healthcare Trust, in the boroughs of Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley. Faced with crippling debts as a result of PFI deals that ought to have been illegal, the SLHT was put into administration in the summer, the first NHS trust to be subjected to the government’s “Regime for Unsustainable NHS Providers.”

Under that legislation, Kershaw was appointed to come up with solutions. His report was published on October 29, and in it he and his team proposed that the trust’s “historic debts” should be absorbed by the Department of Health, so that its new owners are not “saddled with the issues of the past”, and also proposed that the Department of Health should “pay £20 million to £25 million a year to cover the ‘excess costs’ of the PFIs for the two hospitals until the relevant contracts end.” Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital A&E: Photos of the Massive Protest on November 24, 2012

Save Lewisham Hospital A&E: meet the familiesSave Lewisham A&E: placardsSave Lewisham A&E: queuing in the rainSave Lewisham A&E: just some of the many thousands of protestorsSave Lewisham A&E: waiting in lineSave Lewisham A&E: Mr. Kershaw you're a p***k
Save Lewisham A&E: Jez'll fix itI was saved by Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham A&E: musical accompanimentSave Lewisham A&E: in Ladywell FieldsSave Lewisham A&E: and still they come

Save Lewisham Hospital A&E: The Massive Protest on November 24, 2012, a set on Flickr.

The rain fell, but nothing could deter the people of Lewisham — and supporters from elsewhere —  from marching in numbers not seen in living memory to protest about the disgraceful plans, announced less than a month ago, to close Lewisham’s A&E Department, to downgrade maternity services, and to cut other acute frontline services, sending emergency cases and mothers with complications to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, which will then be responsible for the A&E of the 750,000 inhabitants of three boroughs — Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley.

Faced with a derisory “consultation period,” ending on December 13, and an intended fait accompli, the people of Lewisham have been saying no in serious numbers — nearly 20,000 people have now signed a petition initiated by Heidi Alexander MP, and at least 10,000 people turned out yesterday, on a day that was so miserable and wet that only the hardcore showed up, the committed and the dedicated, and there were at least 10,000 of us! 10,000 people believing in the need to preserve Lewisham Hospital as a fully functioning hospital for the 250,000 people who use it and rely on it. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital from Tory Destruction: Huge Rally on Saturday, Public Meeting Next Wednesday

Please sign the petition to save Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services and send it on to your friends and family. Over 16,000 people have already signed!

And here are the crucial dates for your diary:

This Saturday, November 24, “Hands Around Our Hospital” is a major march and rally in Lewisham, with the intention of attracting at least 5,000 protestors to show the government that the people of Lewisham will not accept plans to close the A&E Department and downgrade maternity services to pay for debts elsewhere in the NHS. Meet at Loampit Vale roundabout at 2pm, and link hands around the hospital at 3pm. Afterwards there will be a rally in Ladywell Fields, with speakers including local GP, Dr. Louise Irvine, Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham, and other health workers and patients. If you want to help, see here.

Next Wednesday, November 28, there is a Public Meeting at Catford Broadway Theatre, at 7pm, with speakers including Dr. Louise Irvine and Dr. John Lister, who featured prominently in “Wake Up Call,” a film by Anne-Marie Sweeney, produced last year for Keep Our NHS Public and Health Emergency. Read the rest of this entry »

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, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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