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Appeal lodged against Lewisham Hospital cuts

The government is to appeal against a High Court ruling over a decision to cut services at Lewisham Hospital.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt suffered defeat last month over his “unlawful” move to downgrade A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital in south-east London.

The judge ruled that Mr Hunt lacked power after being told the changes would mean local people having “to travel a long, long way further to get access to vital services”.

The government lodged its appeal on August 21, the last day it could make a move to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

The health secretary was attempting to deal with problems created by the financial collapse of neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust, which went into administration after it started losing more than £1m a week.

Quashing Mr Hunt’s decision, Mr Justice Silber declared that he had breached provisions of the National Health Services Act 2006.

The ruling was a serious blow for Mr Hunt because the case involved the first legal testing of a new government procedure for dealing with failing NHS organisations - referred to as the Unsustainable Providers Regime.

Under the new regime, Mr Hunt had appointed a Trust Special Administrator (TSA) to the “very badly performing” South London Healthcare Trust.

The judge said last year the trust reported a deficit of £65m, “making it the most financially challenged trust in the NHS”. It is expected to run up an accumulated deficit of £196m by 2017.

To help deal with the problem, the special administrator recommended measures including cuts at Lewisham Hospital. Mr Hunt told Parliament in January that A&E and maternity services at the hospital would be downgraded.

Mr Hunt assured MPs the changes would improve patient care in south London, saving up to 100 lives a year, but gave an undertaking not to implement them pending the legal challenge.

<http://www.hsj.co.uk/boardtalk/index.html> (NHS board/governance)

 

Readers' comments (4)

  • what j.hunt doing something unlawful with the nhs..never would of guessed that!!

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  • can he be taken to court for all of his and lansley's decisions?

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  • tinkerbell

    of course not, one law for the rich, one for the working class, one NHS for the rich, another for the working class. Probably changing the law of the land as we speak so they can never be touched for anything, ever.

    38 degrees under threat as torys trying to change the law so we can never lobby them again.,

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  • tinkerbell

    Click here to get started:
    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/lobbying-bill

    People power is at the heart of 38 Degrees. We don't spend too much, but our campaigns do cost money. Without being able to spend - employing staff, buying billboards, or printing leaflets about where politicians stand on local issues - we just won’t be able to make the issues which matter to us all, like the NHS and fair taxation, top of the agenda at the next election.

    The three main political parties have a combined membership of around 433,000. [5] There are 1.7 million of us. Per member, the parties would be able to spend over £130 - 38 Degrees would be able to spend around 23p. [6] Put simply, this will make it hard to influence the next election, and every one after that.

    Can you email Chloe Smith now?

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