Skip to content

High Court quashes decision by Jeremy Hunt to close Lewisham Hospital

  Video by Tom

Press and media

Video of Lewisham Pensioners Forum receiving news of High Court Victory

The High Court today (31 July 2013) found that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, had acted outside his powers and therefore unlawfully, in deciding to substantially cut services and close departments at Lewisham Hospital. In today’s judgment Mr Justice Silber said that the decision of the Secretary of State must be “quashed” as he had acted outside his powers as Secretary of State, and in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006, when he announced to Parliament that services at Lewisham Hospital would be downgraded and closed.

See full judgement here

Law firm Leigh Day, representing the Save Lewisham Campaign Group, successfully argued that the decision of the Secretary of State was unlawful. They also successfully argued that the decision of Trust Special Administrator, the first to be appointed under new health service guidance, was also unlawful. The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign made up of and supported by patients, community groups, GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other health professionals working in Lewisham was formed in 2012, in response to the South London Healthcare Trust Special Administrator (TSA) Mathew Kershaw proposal that, as part of the cost saving measures put forward for the neighbouring trust, South London Healthcare NHS Trust, that services at Lewisham Hospital should be reduced. Despite being appointed TSA for the South London Healthcare Trust, in his final report to the Secretary of State in January 2013, Mr Kershaw not only proposed changes to South London Healthcare Trust but also to Lewisham Healthcare Trust, in particular to Lewisham Hospital which it runs. Mr Kershaw proposed that the Hospital should close and downgrade some of its services, including its A&E department, acute admitting wards and adult Intensive Care Unit. He also suggested that the maternity service at the hospital should be downgraded or closed completely. These recommendations were made despite widespread agreement that Lewisham Hospital was a high achieving and popular hospital not in financial difficulty. Save Lewisham Hospital campaign argued to the TSA at the time, that the alternative health care options proposed would have been extremely difficult for residents to access. However, on 31 January 2013 the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced to parliament that he accepted the TSA’s recommendations about South London Healthcare Trust including the recommendation to reconfigure NHS services ‘beyond the confines of [SLHT], across all of South East London [including Lewisham].’ (Para 40) The High Court today found that “The TSA did not have vires [the power] to make his recommendations relating to LH [Lewisham Hospital]; The Secretary of State did not have vires to make his Decision relating to LH.” (Para 208) ‘Therefore the Decision of the Secretary of State insofar as it relates to LH must be quashed as must the recommendations of the TSA also insofar as they relate to LH.’ (Para 210) 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.”

See full judgement here

Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Group 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”; 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, local GP and Chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, said that she had been overwhelmed by the support from people around the UK:

“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.”

-ENDS- Press Contact: David Standard, Head of Media Relations 07540 332717,

Join the celebrations

40 thoughts on “High Court quashes decision by Jeremy Hunt to close Lewisham Hospital

  1. Julie Mott says:

    Absolutely brilliant news …… well done everyone

  2. Sab says:

    a great victory for the people. thank you for doing so on our behalf!

  3. paul stacey says:

    This is brilliant news & a great day for the people of Lewisham.
    The arrogance of the Tories to try & push this through was staggering.
    There is some talk of the little rat Hunt appealing again this. Lets hope he can summon enough dignity to not do that, and leave our cherished & much loved hospital alone now.

  4. Frankie Turner says:

    Congratulations and thanks to all those who have saved our wonderful hospital. It is renowned as a local hospital in the truest sense : local services for local people. Top quality. So proud.

  5. Anne Dawson says:

    So pleased for all involved in the campaign – it’s such a relief that our wonderful, local hospital has been reprieved.

  6. Justin Ling says:

    Very delighted with the news. So proud of everyone that got involved to save Lewisham Hospital.

  7. Gillian McCreath says:

    A victory for people. Thank you

  8. Peter Pettit says:

    This is the most fantastic news ! I have followed this exemplary campaign throughout and attended one demo outside Richmond House. I was so warmed by the support of Lewisham Mums , including that of my daughter , who turned out in the bitter cold of February to make their views known. They have been vindicated ! Bravo !!!

  9. Mike & Eve Newman says:

    Congratulations to everyone who supported the ‘Save Lewisham A&E’ campaign. A victory for democracy and common sense.

    Mike & Eve Newman

  10. lewi louis says:

    now lets get that Hunt prosecuted

  11. Janis Beavon says:

    Terrific News! This just goes to show we need to be vigilant and challenge, challenge, challenge. If we hadn’t come out in force and made a stand at the beginning, the Council wouldn’t have taken it to court and Hunt would have got away with it. Well done all of us.

  12. Hugh Shrapnel says:

    This is a great victory for us, the people of Lewisham but also a great victory for everyone throughout the country fighting to defend health cuts, closures and the privatisation of the NHS. This victory shows that people matter and that the government and powers that be cannot with impunity trample on our basic rights, including the right to healthcare. I’m sure our victory will be a great inspiration!

  13. Brian Malka says:

    This is good news for the many thousands of people who have have successfully fought against a government intent on saving money without consideration of the needs of the people it was elected to serve, and I trust and hope that the government will take this decision in good grace an not act in a vindictive way against the people of Lewisham and Lewisham Hospital. Well done everyone, common sense has prevailed.

  14. Sylvia Jeffrey says:

    Well done to you and your legal team for a great victory, commonsense won over shortsightedness. Thank you for all the time and effort you’ve put into the fight, you’re the tops.

    With best wishes from a marcher and contributor.

  15. Peta Steel says:

    Wonderful news..

  16. Sean Thompson says:

    Fantastic news! Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard – although it’s not over yet; I’m sure the bastards will try to come back with another attack.

  17. Angela says:

    Congrats on your success!

  18. Deirdre Mason says:

    Fantastic result, and confirms what many of us knew already – that Matthew Kershaw and Jeremy Hunt had gone ultra vires. These politicians and their apparatchiks never learn.
    However, the BBC News also said that ministers are now planning to appeal and that they are considering changing the law so that the likes of Hunt and Kershaw can act more or less as they please.
    We’ll need to put enormous pressure on our MPs and get national support to stop this piece of trickery in its tracks.

  19. zoe says:

    i am so pleased to hear this – what fantastic uplifting news…..well done to all who took part in the fight against closure………and well done Mr Justice Silber for reminding the government what they promised, and ensuring they stick to it! I was born in this hospital, as were my parents, my grand parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. many memories of visiting grandparents in lewisham hospital when they became sick……the healthcare they received was outstanding, even back as long as 30 years ago. It would be criminal to close such a well respected, achieving hospital.

  20. angela teague says:

    Thank you to all that have campaigned so hard and for so long to protect our beloved Lewisham Hospital. Well Done! I certainly appreciate all you have done and hope the rest of the borough and the country understand and appreciate it too. I spent my student nursing days at Lewisham Hospital – Happy Memories!

  21. Hazel Waters says:

    Terrific news, well done to all the campaigners. What is it about this government – they just can’t bear to be defeated, however inadequate and flimsy their case, so will go on wasting our public money to fight on in the courts. Can’t have ordinary people knowing better (and more) than millionaire politicians.
    Now to get ready for the next stage of battle.

  22. david w says:

    i’ve received excellent service from lewisham hospital many times, and joined thousands marching up george lane fighting the disgraceful planned closure this year. what a pleasure to see celebrations outside the court today – well done everyone, KEEP FIGHTING HARD, don’t let those tories find other ways to bleed us of an absolutely BRILLIANT part of the VITAL NHS!!!

  23. Rebecca Blech says:

    Does this really mean that A&E and maternity services at Lewisham will not be reduced?! Is this final or might the government appeal? If this is the reprieve we were all hoping for, I am in awe of People Power – well done to all those involved!!!

  24. admin says:

    It’s brilliant news isn’t it Hazel. Thanks for your message and for your contribution and support.
    Olivia for SLHC

  25. Dave G says:

    Splendid news!! – Wow the marches I went on actually worked I cant believe it.. It’s a tremendous victory against those vile gangsters that run this country; hopefully this will be a turning point!

  26. Sarah Carver says:

    As Matron of Lewisham ED I would like to extend our enormous thanks and appreciation to all of the campaign organisers, the legal team and indeed the entire community. We are all elated and very touched by the support from everyone.

    Thank you on behalf of all the staff in Lewisham A&E dept

  27. Pingback: A positive and important development in the struggle against the destruction of NHS | Real Democracy Bristol

  28. Christopher says:

    Congratulations, this is an excellent result for the people and the staff of Lewisham Hospital. I am very happy for all of you.

  29. Pingback: Photos: Victory for the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign | Andy Worthington

  30. Richard Lamb says:

    This is a great victory for our community.
    But we could have more: we could press criminal charges to recover our money from the PFI gangsters AND get Greenwich Hospital back.

  31. lynn says:

    Absolutely thrilled!!! A triumph for all those who marched, campaigned and contributed also a reminder to the people of Britain that if you want to keep it, fight for it.

  32. Robert Gardiner says:

    What a great outcome and a testament to the commitment and dedication of those that never gave up. On behalf of my wife, 3 children (all born at the hospital) and I, thank you very much for persisting with this worthy cause and, most importantly, for getting a much deserved outcome.

  33. Trevor Powell says:

    Very well done everybody who like me and my family went on both marches over 25,000 supporters.My youngest boy who is now 11yrs old Born in Lewisham hospital. We are all so proud as a force we have come through in victory.

    ps would it be possible to get a Victory poster/hunt to put in place of my save Lewisham A&E…Thanks so much or do i need to go to the hospital to collect?

    • admin says:

      The campaign has a stock of these posters = you can pick up from our regular Saturday stall in Lewisham outside the Riverdale shopping centre between 11-2.

      Thanks – Olivia for S:HC

  34. june hartley says:

    This is great news for Lewisham Hospital and the whole Lewisham community.How any politician or administrator can believe that an efficiently run hospital which is financially well managed should shoulder the burdens and shortcomings of another independent trust is beyond belief.Certainly the standards achieved by Lewisham Hospital should be held up as an beacon of what should be possible.It is certainly not right for it to suffer because of its success.I hope the decision of the High Court will not be appealed to avoid wasting further time and money


    Is warmed and totally proud of the commitent of both staff and local residents who come together to stand up for the cause. I was very scepticle whether the outcome would be such, despite the obvious wrongs of the whole situation, so was pleasantly surprised that common sense prevailed. I work at Lewisham and I am also a local resident and to be fair I feared more for myself and family as a resident, than I did being an employee. Myself and my family did join the marches and so many people coming together for one cause was really heart warming. Thank you so much to everyone that stood up for Lewisham and special thanks to Dr O’Donohue and Tony O’Sullivan, your were amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. eva Smith & Roy Smith says:

    fantastic result – I have to pinch myself – the work the people have put into this has won what all along was right to keep Lewisham Hospital – a marvelous hospital – weve lived in the area over 70 years and find the people incrediable =
    all the staff -doctors nurses consultants and porters all have a part to play they all must have been extremely worried as well as having to do their job with all this on their minds – Absolutely brilliant thankyou all so very very much

  37. Dave G says:

    I still can’t believe the rollercoaster journey of saving this great hospital.
    I participated in the March earlier in the year, as it really griped me that this government is out of control.

    My initial thought is that the government would just steam roller this as they’re clearly on an agenda to destroy the very fabric of our communities across not just s.e.London but all of London even the country as a whole.
    I am delighted to be proved wrong.
    Let’s hope this is the end of it, unless the callous Health department takes it out of budgets of the hospital moving forward in the from of a death by a thousand cuts .

  38. david peach says:

    I made a comment to my local MP Mark Spencer about Clause 119.He said the Labour installed the TSA. But the fact it was the then secretary of state hand picked a SPECIAL ADMINSTRATOR to close A.E, children wards the critical care emergency etc. then wanting to sell the vacant buildings for 17m So that’s why Cameron wants to close the loophole so to stop NHS users from resisting the unlawful closing of hospitals ,they do not like NHS wanting to replace it with a TORY HEALTH SERVICE

  39. Pingback: New Statesman: Why the Lewisham Hospital Campaign continues: people against the government | Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *