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Staff and public join rally against A&E closure

Nurses joined the general public in a march on Saturday against plans to close the accident and emergency department at Lewisham Hospital in south London.

The rally on 24 November was organised by the “Save Lewisham Hospital Group”. It was attended by several thousand people and possibly as many as 10,000, according to union estimates.

The closure of Lewisham’s A&E, and potentially its maternity unit as well, forms part of a package of radical proposals to restructure hospital services across South East London.

They were sparked by the financial collapse of the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust. In July it became the first NHS organisation to be put into administration after running up debts of more than £150m since 2009.

A Trust Special Administer, who was put in charge of running of South London, published proposals on the future sustainability of health services across South East London in late October, which warned the scale of the problems there meant neighbouring trusts would have to be involved in the solution, including Lewisham.

This is despite Lewisham having met its performance and financial targets, and the trust’s A&E department having reopened only six months ago after a refit.

Unison branch secretary Conroy Lawrence said: “We are overwhelmed by the response of the local community, that in incessant rain over 10,000 people from all parts of the community would attend is truly inspiring to the staff at the hospital.

“This campaign has the full support of the medical, nursing and professional staff.”

Mike Davey, the union’s nursing representative at Lewisham Hospital, added that he was “confident that if the community can make its voice heard now, then significant changes can be secured”.

Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust backed the rally. A trust spokesman said: “We welcome the support of local people, who share our pride in the trust’s high quality services.

“We recognise that the NHS faces pressures, and hard decisions will be made. However, we do not feel that a prescriptive approach to service change is right.”

A public consultation on the proposals will close on 13 December. A decision on whether to proceed with the plans is expected to be made in February by the health secretary.

The trust spokesperson added: “We are encouraging staff, patients and local people to play an active role in the Trust Special Administrator’s public consultation.” 

The board of Lewisham Healthcare will also be submitting a formal response to the plans separately.

Readers' comments (9)

  • does not matter what protests the people carry out

    it will be down to jeremy hunt....and lets face it he does not give a toss about nurses or the nhs

    the tories are dismantling and privatising the nhs at breakneck speed...closures coming to a hospital near you very soon!!!

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  • tinkerbell

    Well done, let's make our voices heard. Nice one.

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  • I've worked in Lewisham A&E, it's a busy busy place and I can't believe they can justify it closing.

    Many many years ago it had a poor reputation but it's one of the best hospitals in London now, the mat unit is world-class.

    Where do they think patients will go - all the neighbouring hospitals are at breaking point already - this is really sad news.

    I trained in a London hospital which was closed by Thatcher and know how devastating it will be to all the staff and the community. All our marches then were in vain but good luck to everyone.



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  • well done all you nurses who voted tory

    your doing a fine job on the nhs

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  • Have just shredded my NMC membership card with great glee. 30 years experience lost to nursing but I needed the money to pay for the gas in my home to prevent hypothermia and 80+ % humidity! My bill has just doubled in the last two months and was taken by direct debit without any warning!

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  • I can't imagine many people will ever vote tory again, I really hope not because they are an absolute disgrace. One day they will be hospitalised - private insurance no doubt.

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  • Anonymous | 26-Nov-2012 12:16 pm

    "does not matter what protests the people carry out"

    Because protests are fragmented and poorly supported. It would matter and make a difference if all nurses and healthcare staff protested in an organised and effective manner. The government don't need to worry though, because that will never happen.

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  • tinkerbell

    every 15 years or so the public vote tory again because they forget about how bad it was for jo public to live under tory ideology and younger voters never experienced the damage inflicted on the working classes so don't know any different. They are about to find out though sadly. But it is a learning curve.

    Sadly it still hasn't got as bad yet as it is going to get but it will get much worse before it will get better. It can only get better once they are voted out and another 15 odd years will pass and so on...........until something better comes along other than new labour and tory maybe, otherwise this crowd will get voted in yet again once everyone has forgotten in the mist of time.

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  • The Lewisham A&E and the other services of the hospital is a victim of the bankrupt PFI at Bromley which was implemented by the labour government. Whilst this is all about money the point is that the impact is about people. The staff and community of Lewisham have been here before. At regular intervals in past decades there have been proposals about Lewisham hospital which ignore the impact on the people of Lewisham. Lewisham is a jewel in the crown of South East London health care. Lets stop sacrificing services which work well to prop up PFIs which are draining the life blood of the NHS.

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