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Newsletter 10 February 2013

The decision by Jeremy Hunt to accept the TSA proposals to downgrade Lewisham Hospital is a disgrace. Many people in our community are very angry that Hunt has refused to listen to the people of Lewisham and completely ignored our GPs and clinicians. Our campaign goes on!

In a deliberate attempt to mislead people and press, Hunt has re-branded TSA Matthew Kershaw’s original proposal for an urgent care centre. Hunt has claimed that his plan to provide a scaled-down smaller A&E would deal with 75% of people currently attending Lewisham. Some have been deceived into thinking the A&E has been “saved”. In fact this is a lie. Without wards to admit ill patients to, and without an Intensive Care Unit, only minor cases would be seen and either sent home or kept in a short stay ward. If this goes through, all wards bar the short stay ward would be closed, and the staff who work there sacked. The deception is based on a false assumption that as many as 75% of cases attending the A&E are minor. In practice, Lewisham A&E doctors themselves provided evidence that only about 30% of cases were predictably minor and the rest need a full A&E for proper assessment and treatment.

The other important part of the story is the decision to close the full maternity unit, to be replaced by a midwife only unit that would be able to deliver about 10% of current numbers. This means that women would not be able to access urgent medical support on site should complications arise. The neonatal intensive care unit would also close. Currently, women can choose the excellent midwife-led care provided in the Lewisham Birth Centre in the secure knowledge that obstetric care, including theatre or intensive care if required, is available immediately. With Hunt’s proposal, women using the midwife unit will have to be transferred in an ambulance if complications arose. This would increase risk for babies where there were signs of foetal distress in labour or for women experiencing heaving bleeding after delivery. In an inner city area such as Lewisham it is impossible to claim that you can predict with certainty ‘low-risk pregnancies’ as things can change rapidly and unpredictably. 4000 Lewisham women will be forced to go elsewhere to have their babies. Other local maternity units do not have the capacity to cope with this number of increased births. Overall this drastically reduces choice of place of birth for thousands of Lewisham women and hundreds of women in neighbouring boroughs who are currently choosing to have their babies in Lewisham. In other words choice is reduced and risk is greatly increased.


So our first message is that we are not buying Hunt’s PR and spin, our hospital is still under threat and we need to continue the fight.

The second important message is that no closures at Lewisham Hospital are imminent. Hunt’s proposals are over a 2-3 year period. The hospital services will not be closed overnight and we must continue to use them and defend them. Lots of things can change in this timeframe and we are running a very strong campaign to WIN! The SLH campaign is 100% committed to keeping the pressure up on the Government to u-turn their Lewisham decision.

Our fight has several strands:

1. Legal Challenge: The Council has launched a legal challenge and the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign is in discussion with solicitors to mount a separate but complementary legal challenge.  The campaign will need to help fund-raise for this.

2. Choose Lewisham: It is critical that we  support the hospital and keep on using it for A&E, Maternity and Paediatric care.

A new Save Lewisham Hospital poster and leaflet campaign will launch soon.

3. Campaign continues: We will continue to take the campaign to government and to Jeremy Hunt.

4. We will be organising a Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign programme of events over the coming weeks and months including a People’s Commission which will hear and publicise the evidence that Hunt ignored. There will be a Born in Lewisham event in the next few weeks to celebrate the maternity and children’s services. There will also be key campaign dates around the legal challenge.

5. Defend the NHS in London: We will link up with other campaigns in London and the rest of the UK where appropriate to highlight the attacks on local hospital services and build strength in unity. In particular we will continue to work with campaigners in Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley to oppose the implementation of the TSA’s proposals there which will mean the loss of hundreds of nurses and doctors posts. We are supporting the London NHS Week of Action 9-16 February. 

6. Lewisham events in Week of Action

There will be a lunch-time rally on Friday 15th February at 1pm opposite Lewisham Hospital. This will be addressed by Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock, hospital staff, trades unionists, patients and campaigners. On Saturday 16th February there will be stalls in Lewisham town centre to distribute our new campaign leaflets and posters and inform people about the campaign’s next steps.

Louise Irvine
Chair, Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign


3 thoughts on “Newsletter 10 February 2013

  1. Pingback: Hunted but not Caught « Greenwich Liberal

  2. Liz Walke - Chair of the Save the DGH Campaign in Eastbourne says:

    We are fighting to keep emergency and high risk general surgery and emergency and high risk orthopaedics at Eastbourne DGH (District General Hospital). We are also losing our Trauma unit status. These will be moving to a hospital 21 miles away on a congested road which is notorious for accidents and by public transport there is no direct route by bus or train! Papers for Judicial Review were issued in the High Court yesterday. It’s people’s lives which are being bargained with. Why don’t the NHS management realise that they are not thinking outside the hospital ie. how to get to the services? All the very best to you on your fight!

    • admin says:

      Thanks very much for this highly relevant information. I am passing your information to Louise Irvine campaign chair and Tony O’Sullivan.

      Olivia, for SLHC


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