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High Court quashes Lewisham downgrade decision


The decision to downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital has been quashed in the High Court.

Mr Justice Silber this morning ruled the special administrator appointed to neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust had acted outside his powers in making recommendations that would affect Lewisham.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt in January approved the decision of special administrator Matthew Kershaw that South London Healthcare Trust be dissolved and one of its hospitals be merged with Lewisham, which would then lose some services.

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley invoked the powers of the 2006 Health Act in June to put South London into administration.

When Mr Hunt approved the special administrator’s recommendation, Lewisham Council and a campaign group issued a legal challenge.

Quashing Mr Hunt’s decision, Mr Justice Silber said in his judgment: “The trust special administrator did not have vires [authority under the legislation] to make his recommendations relating to Lewisham Hospital.

“The secretary of state did not have the vires to make his decision relating to Lewisham Hospital.”

Justice Silber said the claimants’ complaint that the proposal did not meet Mr Lansley’s “four tests” on hospital reconfiguration also succeeded.

The council and campaigners said the opposition from Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group meant the plans failed Mr Lansley’s stipulation that significant changes to services should have “support from GP commissioners”.

The Department of Health has sought leave to appeal today’s decision and Justice Silber approved leave to do this.

The British Medical Association said there should be an “urgent review” into how the secretary of state came to breach his statutory powers.

Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.


Readers' comments (2)

  • tinkerbell

    Statement from Dr Richard Taylor:

    I am delighted that a mad, politically driven decision has been overturned and an efficient, highly respected district general hospital has been saved for the benefit of local people.

    NHAP believes very strongly that the only reasons for NHS hospital reconfigurations must always be to improve the standards of clinical care and must never be purely financial.

    NHAP will press for improvements in value for money in the NHS that do not involve reductions in service. These were described in work in the House of Commons in 2010 with which I was closely involved

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  • tinkerbell

    Please sign the petition to try and prevent another stunt like this at a hospital near you.


    This is HUGE news. Today, we got the verdict in the court case against health secretary Jeremy Hunt, which 38 Degrees members helped to pay for.

    It's the result we had all hoped for: the judge ruled that Jeremy Hunt acted illegally. He's been ordered to scrap his plan to cut A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital, south London. [1]

    This is fantastic news for the people of Lewisham. But it's also great news for the rest of us. If Jeremy Hunt had got away with this in Lewisham, no hospital would have been safe.

    When the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign decided to take Jeremy Hunt to court, thousands of us from all across the UK stepped in to help. Together, chipping in whatever we could afford, we raised the £20,000 they needed to launch their legal challenge. [2]

    It's not often that ordinary people come together to take the government to court. That was an impressive achievement in itself. But to win – and to prove that Jeremy Hunt is breaking the law – is simply amazing.

    There will be so much more to do if we're going to stop and reverse this government's damaging attacks on our health service. In Lewisham, there's a chance the government may appeal the court's decision. Everywhere else, there are cuts, privatisation, and low care standards for us to battle against.

    Today is a great win - but the Save our NHS campaign will need to go on tomorrow!

    But let's take a little bit of time to celebrate first. Here are two ways to toast this success:

    1. Raise a glass this evening to all the people who made this breakthrough possible. The 38 Degrees members who donated. All the other 38 Degrees members who are involved in the Save Our NHS campaign. The brilliant local campaigners in the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign who have worked tirelessly for months. The crack legal team at Leigh Day solicitors. And the wonderful local NHS staff who've just kept going despite their hospital being under threat.

    2. Forward this e-mail to any friends or contacts who could do with a little bit of inspiration. Sometimes it can feel like it's impossible for us to make a difference. Today's success proves that when enough of us work together, we really can. People power works!

    Here's what Dr Louise Irvine, chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, has to say:

    "We're delighted by the judgement and the support we've got from Lewisham and beyond, especially from 38 Degrees members who donated to make today's victory possible and helped give us the confidence to stand up to Jeremy Hunt in court".

    Thank you for everything you do,

    David, Susannah, Ian, Travis, Blanche and the 38 Degrees team

    PS: If you're on Facebook or Twitter why not celebrate there too?

    Share the news about Lewisham on your Facebook wall

    Tweet @SaveLewishamAE campaign to say congratulations.

    PPS: Caroline Molloy, a 38 Degrees member and Commissioning Editor of OurNHS, has started a petition on Campaigns By You asking Jeremy Hunt to accept the court’s decision rather than appeal it. Sign the petition now to make sure Lewisham’s victory lasts:

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