More Photos from “Born in Lewisham,” the Protest to Save Lewisham Hospital, March 16, 2013

Hands around Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham Hospital: Campaigners outside A&ESave Lewisham Hospital: Millwall F.C.'s bus outside A&ESave Lewisham Hospital: Business as usualBusiness as usual: Save Lewisham Hospital maternity servicesBorn at Lewisham 27.2.13
Save Lewisham Hospital: Campaigners in Ladywell FieldsA victory for Lewisham Hospital is a victory for everyoneAt "Born in Lewisham" protest, Louise Irvine addresses the crowdLocal rapper Question at "Born in Lewisham" protest"Born in Lewisham": The crowd during Question's official campaign songQuestion and Snipez rap to save Lewisham Hospital A&E
Lewisham rapper Question and Zampa the Lion, Millwall F.C.'s mascot

More Photos from “Born in Lewisham,” the Protest to Save Lewisham Hospital, March 16, 2013, a set on Flickr.

On Saturday, another high-profile event took place in the campaign to “Save Lewisham Hospital” from destruction by senior NHS managers and the government, with an event entitled, “Born in Lewisham,” in which campaigners showed their support for the hospital with a gathering outside the entrance on Lewisham High Street, and a rally afterwards in Ladywell Fields, with speakers, music and stalls.

The particular focus of the event was on people born in Lewisham Hospital, who were encouraged to show their support for the hospital by having their photos taken for a photo gallery (forthcoming on the Save Lewisham Hospital website) and carrying home-made placards or wearing T-shirts with personalised messages. Some of those photos are featured in this photo set, and the previous one which I posted on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »

Born in Lewisham: Photos of the Protest to Save Lewisham Hospital, March 16, 2013

Save our hospitalSave Lewisham HospitalLewisham siblingsLewisham familyProtest hatLewisham hospital saved me
Born in Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham Hospital campaigners outside A&EThe "Born in Lewisham" protest, March 16, 2013Strawberry Thieves ChoirNo to Privatisation of the NHS!Protect maternity services
Lewisham's services: Choose them! Use them! Don't lose them!The family born in Lewisham HospitalThe teenager born in Lewisham

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital: Legal Challenge Goes Ahead, Plus New Actions Confirmed

Please support the “Born in Lewisham Hospital” event on Saturday March 16, and, if you can, contribute to Lewisham Council’s Legal Challenge Fund to pay for the Judicial Review that has just been launched, to prove that the plans to close Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department and severely downgrade other services is illegal!

The struggle to save Lewisham Hospital from destruction continues, with undiminished energy, I’m glad to report. I have been a resident of Lewisham, in south east London, for the last 15 years, and I am proud of the creativity, commitment and clear-sighted indignation of my fellow residents campaigning against the wretched proposals to disembowel the hospital, conceived of, proposed and endorsed by both senior NHS officials and the government.

To recap briefly (although my archive of articles is here, and I also recommend the Save Lewisham Hospital website and Facebook page), at the end of October Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator appointed by the former health secretary Andrew Lansley to deal with the financial problems of a neighbouring NHS trust (the South London Healthcare Trust, covering the boroughs of Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley) proposed that King’s (in Camberwell) should take over one of the SLHT’s hospitals, while another, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, on a remote, blasted heath in Woolwich, should merge with Lewisham.

Kershaw was the first administrator appointed under specific “unsustainable providers” legislation, of which there are many critics (myself included), who see that trusts may end up in debt for all kinds of reasons, including, as in the case of the SLHT) monstrous PFI deals that ought to have been illegal. However, there was at least a certain logic at work with regard to the proposals for King’s to take over one hospital, and for Lewisham to merge with Queen Elizabeth. Read the rest of this entry »

The Destruction of the NHS in North West London

Yesterday’s news was expected, but it still hit hard. Last June, the Joint Committee of North West London Primary Care Trusts proposed the closure of four of the nine A&E Departments at hospitals in north west London, and on Tuesday, despite vigorous campaigns throughout the area against the proposals, the committee confirmed that, as the Evening Standard put it, “Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals will lose their A&Es permanently while Charing Cross and Ealing will be left with a downgraded urgent care centres which will not accept emergency patients.”

This really is an alarming development, as it will leave three of the eight boroughs in north west London — containing about three-quarters of a million people — without a major hospital, out of the 1.9 million people in the whole of north west London. In addition, removing hospitals’ ability to deal with emergencies essentially sounds the death knell for those hospitals, as a huge range of hospital services rely upon emergency admissions and the ability to deal with emergencies. In Lewisham, for example, where similar cuts have been approved, at least 90 percent of the mothers in the entire borough (4,400 a year) will no longer be able to give birth in Lewisham itself, despite it having the same population as Brighton, Hull or Newcastle.

Following the announcement about the north west London hospitals, Andy Slaughter, the MP for Hammersmith and the secretary of Save Our Hospitals Hammersmith and Fulham, said, “This is the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS. It will put lives at risk across West London and will give a second class health service to 2 million people.” He also stated, “There will be no A&E in the London boroughs of Hammersmith, Ealing or Brent, which together have a population the size of Leeds.” Read the rest of this entry »

Defend London’s NHS: MPs, Doctors and Activists Describe An Unprecedented Threat to the NHS

Defend London's NHS: the press launch in ParliamentDr. Louise Irvine speaks at the launch of "Defend London's NHS"Andy Slaughter MP speaks at the launch of "Defend London's NHS"Save Our Hospitals, HammersmithSave Charing Cross HospitalKensington & Chelsea TUC
Strawberry Thieves ChoirSave Our Hospitals: the march in HammersmithRoses are red, Violets are blue, We need our A&Es kept open by you

Defend London’s NHS: A Week of Action, a set on Flickr.

Last week, from February 9 to 16, campaigners across London — in Lewisham, in Hammersmith, in Ealing, in Archway and in Kingston — who are fighting to save essential frontline services from the government (which is committed to the destruction of the NHS), and from senior NHS management (who have forgotten what the NHS is for), came together as “Defend London’s NHS,” an unprecedented coalition of MPs, unions, campaigners, patients, doctors and other health workers.

In the inaugural week of action, there were events on Saturday February 9 outside Ealing Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital (between Brent and Ealing), which are two of the four A&E Departments (out of nine in total) that face the axe in north west London, along with the two hospitals in Hammersmith — Charing Cross and Hammersmith itself, and there were also protests and events throughout the week, culminating in a rally in Lewisham on Friday (see my photos here), and rallies in Hammersmith and Kingston on Saturday.

The Parliamentary launch of “Defend London’s NHS”

However, the week of action’s central event took place on Monday February 11, when “Defend London’s NHS” was launched in the House of Commons. At this event, the speakers, who included the doctors Louise Irvine, the chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, and Onkar Sahota, the chair of the Ealing Save Our Hospitals campaign, and two MPs, Andy Slaughter and Heidi Alexander, were united in their recognition that the NHS currently faces an unparalleled threat, greater than at any other time in its 65-year history. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Save Lewisham Hospital Rally, February 15, 2013

Save Lewisham Hospital protest, February 15, 2013Don't tear the ♥ from our hospitalSave Lewisham A&ESave Lewisham Hospital: the bannerDr. Louise Irvine, the chair of Save Lewisham Hospital, speaksSave Lewisham Hospital: the crowd on February 15, 2013
Killer Kershaw!Steve Bullock, Lewisham's Mayor, speaks at the rally to save the hospital, February 15, 2013Have a heart, Mr. HuntDon't keep calm, get angry and save Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham Hospital: a speaker from Lewisham Pensioners ForumCalling for Lewisham Hospital to be saved
The crowd in front of Lewisham HospitalSolidarity for Lewisham Hospital from the Fire Brigade UnionSupport from Goldsmiths CollegeSave the NHS from the profiteers

Save Lewisham Hospital Rally, February 15, 2013, a set on Flickr.

In Lewisham, in south east London, Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners, trade union representatives and concerned residents of the London Borough of Lewisham attended a rally at the war memorial opposite Lewisham Hospital, on Lewisham High Street, at 1pm on Thursday February 15, to tell the government and senior NHS management that they — we — will continue to campaign to save Lewisham Hospital from the plans to severely downgrade its services and to sell off 60 percent of its buildings, which were approved two weeks ago by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The proposals were put forward in October by Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator charged with finding solutions to the financial problems of a neighbouring NHS trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, which was placed in administration in the summer. Under those plans, Lewisham’s A&E Department will close, replaced by an Urgent Care Unit, which cannot deal with emergencies, and this will have a severe impact on the hospital’s ability to survive. There will no longer be an intensive care unit, other acute services will be shut, and, according to Hunt, just 10 percent of the 4,400 Lewisham mothers who give birth in Lewisham every year will be able to do so in future, as any birth that carries a risk of complications will have to take place elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Defend London’s NHS: Join the Week of Action from February 9 to 16

Update February 7: The “Born in Lewisham” event mentioned below will be taking place at a later date. Instead, Save Lewisham Hospital have another event organised for the week of action: a rally at the war memorial opposite Lewisham Hospital on Friday February 15 at 1pm, to which everyone is invited.

From February 9 to 16, a coalition of Londoners from all points of the compass are uniting for a Week of Action in defence of London’s NHS services — and in particular, a number of endangered A&E Departments. Defend London’s NHS describes itself as “a non-partisan, residents-led campaign group bringing together Londoners from Islington to Greenwich, from Ealing to Hackney and beyond.”

As the umbrella organisation’s press release explained, “An unprecedented coalition of London residents, medical staff, trade unions and health campaigners has come together to raise the alarm regarding the biggest threats to A & E’s, maternity units and in-hospital care for a generation. The week-long actions will include protests, pickets, rallies, demonstrations, candle lit vigils, musical events and more.”

The organisers also noted, “Londoners have lobbied MPs to ensure that cross-party members of the House of Commons as well as the House of Lords participate in the Week of Action.”

On February 11, 2013, there will be a press conference, called by Defend London’s NHS and Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, at the Jubilee Room, House of Commons, from 10am to 11.45am, at which the full details of the threats to  London’s NHS services — and the very existence of a number of hospitals — will be discussed. Read the rest of this entry »

Tories Endorse NHS Proposals to Disembowel Lewisham Hospital

In the end, then, the massive grassroots struggle to save Lewisham Hospital from government-backed destruction on the advice of the NHS’s own senior officials — which led to two massive demos, in November, and last weekend (see here and here) — proved not to be an end in itself, but just the beginning of a larger battle.

Yesterday, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, broadly approved the proposals to close Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department, replacing it with an “urgent care centre,” unable to deal with emergencies, and have other frontline services, including its maternity services, severely downgraded. The proposals were put forward just three months ago by Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator appointed last summer by the former health secretary Andrew Lansley to deal with the bankrupt South London Healthcare Trust, and his recommendations regarding Lewisham came as a shock and surprise to the 250,000 residents of the borough.

Their — our — surprise was understandable. After all, Kershaw had been appointed to make recommendations regarding the fate of the South London Healthcare Trust, based in Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, and not Lewisham, which is an independent trust. In addition, the SLHT was crippled by PFI debt — which, incidentally, is so monstrously disproportionate that it should have been declared illegal — whereas Lewisham was solvent, but this apparently made no difference to the would-be butchers of NHS services. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Lewisham Hospital: More Photos of the Massive Protest on January 26, 2013

Lewisham children say: Save Our A&EUnison say: Save Lewisham A&ETriplets born at Lewisham HospitalTired monstersFamilies march to save Lewisham HospitalPassing Lewisham Hospital
Lewisham A&E staff support the march to save the hospitalStop the cutsSave our hospitalSave Lewisham Hospital: the march reaches CatfordSave Lewisham Hospital: protestors in CatfordOur NHS: We're proud of it … keep it that way!
People of Lewisham! People of South London! You are amazing!Save Lewisham Hospital: protestors in Mountsfield ParkUnison: Defend the NHSThe Millwall busDon't keep calm. Get angry and save Lewisham A&EBandaged
Save Lewisham Hospital from the Tory dragonHands off our hospitalDon't do it, Jeremy!Save our local NHS hospitalsFor all the people who are too fragile to marchPlacards

Save Lewisham Hospital: More Photos of the Massive Protest on January 26, 2013, a set on Flickr.

So now we wait.

On Saturday, as this second set of my photos shows — following on from the first set here — around 25,000 people marched through Lewisham, in south east London, to a rally in Mountsfield Park in Catford, to deliver a powerful rebuke to senior NHS officials, and to the government.

In the first set, I focused on the initial gathering in the centre of Lewisham, and in this second set I photographed the march through the streets, past shoppers and car drivers earnestly honking their horns in support, past Lewisham Hospital, and on to Mountsfield Park in Catford, where there were speakers including Louise Irvine, a Deptford GP and the chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, and Heidi Alexander MP, who introduced a successful petition to save Lewisham Hospital, which now has over 30,000 signatures.

There was also music, a number of food stalls and a giant petition, and it felt, just for a few hours, as though a velvet revolution was beginning. It is certainly true that only huge numbers — like the numbers seen on Saturday — can genuinely alarm those in power, but it remains to be seen, of course, if such numbers can be mobilised again, not just for Lewisham, but across London, and throughout England as a whole, as the long years of this wretched coalition government — arrogant and cruel, to an extent that is almost beyond belief, and without a genuine mandate — continue to grind away at the very structure of civil society, hurling more and more of the most vulnerable members of society into genuinely alarming poverty, while continuing to destroy Britain economically, and doing nothing for anyone except the rich and the super-rich — the bankers, corporations and individuals who got us into financial difficulties in the first place, and who continue to avoid paying taxes on a colossal scale. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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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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