The Bellingham Green Surgery
24 Bellingham Green
London SE6 3JB
Tel 020 8697 7285
Mr Matthew Kershaw
South LondonHealthcare NHS Trust Special Administrator
Via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr Kershaw
We are writing to you as five GPs, partners at the Bellingham Green Surgery. We serve one of the most deprived wards of the borough of Lewisham. We wish to register our strong opposition to the proposed downgrading of services at University Hospital Lewisham. We have considered your consultation document but ask you to consider the following points.
Firstly we have great sympathy with the difficult position in which you find yourself. We understand that the NHS (indeedUKpublic spending as a whole) is in a time of austerity. However I believe it needs to be acknowledged that a significant part of the current problems of funding in the NHS in South London are not due to austerity or to unsustainable spending on patient services but are due to the imprudent over reliance on the Private Finance Initiative to fund capital projects in the NHS, particularly by the previous government. This is therefore largely a problem caused not by grass root unsustainability or by poor management but by central government. Problems created by central government (albeit not by this administration) should be sorted out by central government, not by penalising local patients. We believe therefore that you should not accept a remit that simply requires you to solve financial problems locally when these problems originate inWhitehall.
Secondly it is ironic that the proposed solution to problems outside the Lewisham area is to raid Lewisham, whose finances are in a comparatively good state. This is hardly conducive with any sense of local accountability, much less the operation of market forces within the NHS.
Thirdly there would be many further consequences of downgradingLewishamHospitalfrom its current status as a fully functioning DGH. In service terms our patient would no longer have access to a proper range of services via a single bus ride. This would particularly affect our vulnerable elderly. Furthermore it would lead to a progressive decline in Lewisham’s excellent standing as a training centre, which has done so much to improve local service provision in both secondary and primary care in the last couple of decades. We feel that your report does not take adequate account of these issues, particularly the problems that will follow on from a downgrading of local training.
Fourthly, as you are aware, the Prime Minister himself has made a commitment that local services will not be reconfigured unless the changes are for the benefit of patients and are supported by both local patients and doctors. We hold that these changes are clearly not in the interest of Lewisham residents. It is a simple fact that local residents are overwhelmingly opposed to these proposals, as evidenced for example by the many thousands of people present at the march on November the 24th. Lewisham doctors are also overwhelmingly opposed to these proposals. We have noted in particular the cogent arguments put forward by groups ofLewishamHospital consultants and also by local GP colleagues. With respect we would urge that you now need to recognise these commitments and not just to listen to local views but to defer to them.
Thank you for reading this letter. Thank you for listening to local views. We would now ask that, in line with the overwhelming force of local opinion and medical opinion, you withdraw any proposals that would downgrade the services provided atLewishamHospital.
Dr David Misselbrook, Dr David Sharpe, Dr Wendy Gaskell, Dr Sejal Patel,
Dr Katherine Chan.