Lewisham Council have just served our legal challenge on the Government’s decision to drastically downgrade Lewisham Hospital A&E and maternity services on the ground that the Special Adminstrator was acting beyond his powers.
Depending on how the Government respond, this could end up being decided in Court as part of a substantial judicial review, by which we would seek the Court rendering the Government’s decision void.
As such, this could be a costly process, so the Council has set up a Legal Action Fund for the public to donate whatever they can towards legal funding. We don’t know at this early stage how much will be required, but if there is any surplus it will go to a local charity, Children First Lewisham.
You can pay by credit or debit card, and the minimum is a fiver.
From Kevin again:
The costs of the legal challenge are initially likely to consist mostly of engaging specialist barrister expertise at Queen’s Counsel level, which unfortunately is not pro bono. Other work is being carried out by the Counsel’s in-house legal team for which there is no additional cost, although it does of course add to their workload. Provision also has to be made for any costs orders that be made by the Court during judicial review proceedings, but it is too early to estimate how much these might be at the moment.
As for operating the legal challenge fund, there are no external costs as this has been set up and maintained by Council officers, so it’s a matter of use of officers’ time, which I understand is quite minimal since the payment system used is the same as that for other payments made to the Council online. Just to make a small clarification to your post, I understand that people can enter a lower sum than the suggested £5 – and also a higher sum than the suggested maximum of £25! As of yesterday, the fund had received donations in a total sum of £2,400.
Working with local campaigners to save the Royal Surrey County Hospital’s A&E department from closure. A 6,000-strong rally, packed public meetings and a candle-lit vigil at Parliament all forced the local Primary Care Trust to keep the area’s vital resource open.
Video of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust statement in House of Commons
22m51s – Bob Neil Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst
24m50s – Dame Joan Ruddock – Labour, Lewisham and Deptford
28m18s – Bob Stewart – Conservative, Beckenham
29m56s – Heidi Alexander – Labour, Lewisham East
31m58s – Simon Hughes – Liberal Democrat, Bermondsey and Old Southwark
34m12s – Tessa Jowell – Dulwich and West Norwood
37m18s – Stephen Dorrell – Chair, Health Committee
38m37s – Jim Dowd – Labour, Lewisham West and Penge
41m52s – Nick de Bois – Conservative, Enfield North
42m48s – Clive Efford – Labour, Eltham
44m05s – Nick Raynsford – Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich
45m12s – Teresa Pearce – Labour, Erith and Thamesmead
47m27s – Kate Hoey – Labour, Vauxhall
49m38s – Kevin Barron – Labour, Rother Valley
And Heidi Alexander suggested the same thing on her blog:
“There is also a big legal question about whether the Secretary of State has the power to axe vital services at Lewisham based on the administration process that has taken place.
I know that Lewisham Council have threatened the Secretary of State with judicial review proceedings.
It seems to me that this decision could still be challenged in the courts and I will be seeking an urgent update from Lewisham Council about their plans.”
And a statement from Mayor Bullock today: “I do not believe that the TSA had the statutory power to make recommendations about Lewisham Hospital and the Secretary of State therefore has no power to implement them.
“I will be talking to our lawyers and we will also of course need to talk to our colleagues at Lewisham Hospital in order to fully understand the implications of Mr Hunt’s statement.”
Good to see the Evening Standard informing and educating the metropolis:
I've just seen the evening standard's headline "a and e unit is saved". Fuck the standard
Across London, NHS services are under threat. Right now, the health secretary Jeremy Hunt is considering scrapping vital services at Lewisham Hospital. If he does, 750,000 Londoners could have just one casualty department between them.
We’ve only got a few hours to stop him – he could be making the decision tomorrow. So far, over 13,000 members of 38 Degrees have asked Hunt to keep Lewisham’s services open. And last Saturday, an amazing 25,000 people turned out to line Lewisham’s streets in protest.
So the consultation results are in. Apparently it’s a great idea to close Lewisham A&E and maternity wards. I’m sure that’s what you all sent to the consultation.
Email from our local MP Heidi Alexander (emphasis mine):
Thank you again for signing the petition to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E and maternity department, which I presented to No. 10 just before Christmas. Over 35,000 people have now signed the petition, and together we are sending a loud and clear message that we strongly oppose the plans for closure.
Despite this, we learnt this week that the Special Administrator appointed to the South London Healthcare Trust has formally recommended to Government that both A&E and maternity services at Lewisham should close. He proposes to replace them with an urgent care centre and a midwife-led birthing unit.
Many people – including me – feel badly let down by the so-called consultation process that has taken place. It is sheer madness to be shutting down services at a solvent, successful hospital in order to deal with financial problems elsewhere. I am also extremely concerned about the inadequate services that will be left for South East London – just this week the two closest maternity units, at Queen Elizabeth, Woolwich and Kings, had to turn away pregnant women in labour as they were at capacity.
But this is not a done deal, and together we must keep up the fight.
The Health Secretary is currently considering these proposals, and will be announcing his decision on 1st February. Along with my parliamentary colleagues Dame Joan Ruddock and Jim Dowd, I will be doing all that I can to convince the Health Secretary of the case against these proposals. But we need your help.
Between now and 1st February, please do all that you can to help the campaign. If you have 5 minutes or 5 days, there are lots of ways you can get involved. At the bottom of this email, there are specific contacts and things you can do to help – for example, leafleting, making placards or being a steward at campaign events.
If you can only spare a little time, please do the following:
Protest against the proposals. The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign have organised a second peaceful demonstration on Saturday 26th January. Assemble at Lewisham Roundabout (by the station) at 12, before we march past the hospital to Mountsfield Park for a rally, music and giant petition. I will be speaking at the rally.
Let the Secretary of State know what you think by sending your views directly to him. Email Jeremy Hunt on email@example.com or write to him at Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, Department for Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS
Forward this email on to your friends. Spread the word about the campaign! This does not only affect the people of Lewisham, and Mr Hunt needs to know that people across South East London are not prepared to accept these recommendations and have their services and their safety compromised.
The campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital is far from over. We must be prepared to step up and make our voices heard. I hope we can count upon your support.
Heidi Alexander MP
If you don’t understand questions 1-6, just click ‘strongly disagree’ or ‘next’. (Q1 – Q3 relate to ‘financial efficiency’. Q4 – Q6 relate to Queen Mary’s Sidcup becoming a ‘health campus’)
Answer ‘strongly disagree’ to question 7 if you can – it relates to selling off hospital buildings. They want to sell 60% of Lewisham Hospital’s buildings. Once they are gone, there is no turning back.
If you don’t understand questions 8 to 12, click ‘strongly disagree or ‘next’. (Q8 – Q12 relate to PFI and community care. It is worth noting there is no suggestion to re-negotiate the PFI debt. So it would still be paid in full, from your taxes, but would come out of the Department of Health’s budget)
Answer ‘strongly disagree’ to question 13! It is about Lewisham A&E. And use question 14 to tell them why you want to save it and any ideas you may have.
Answer ‘neither of these options’ to question 15! – This is a complex question about maternity services. If the A&E closes, they may have to close the maternity wards (obstetric-led units) because emergencies during labour could be risky.
Question 16. This is a place to say you believe Lewisham A&E is crucial to safe maternity care in Lewisham Hospital, so please don’t close either.
Question 17 – 20, keep clicking ‘strongly disagree’ or ‘next’ if you like. (Q17-18 relate to surgery. Q19-20 relate to merging South London and Lewisham trusts.)
Question 21 wants to know if you want Kings College Hospital or another (maybe private) company to run Princess Royal Hospital, Farnborough. Click next or support Kings taking over.
Question 22 wants to know if you would like some debts at South London Hospital to be written off. Support that idea, or click ‘next’.
Click through questions 23 and 24 if you want. Or write any comments you may want to make in question 24.
You have to answer question 25.
Answer the remaining questions about you. You do not need to say you live in Lewisham or that Lewisham is your nearest hospital, if that is the case. To date, the administrator has undermined our opposition by portraying it as local selfishness. So, if you don’t want the administrator to argue that only people in Lewisham oppose his plans, don’t let them know you are in Lewisham (if you aren’t in Lewisham, please answer the questions).
SUBMIT the form. Make sure you don’t fall asleep before submitting the form.
Part of an email last week from Heidi Alexander MP:
I am extremely concerned about these proposals. I don’t see why Lewisham should pay the price for financial failures elsewhere in the NHS. I believe the A&E departments at other hospitals such as Kings and Woolwich are already at capacity and I am very concerned about the impact that the proposed changes could have on patient safety. I also believe local mums should be able to have their babies in their local hospital and that it is just wrong to ask women and their families to travel to unfamiliar places to give birth.
Yesterday I set up a petition which calls for a full, admitting A&E and full maternity service to be retained at Lewisham. You can sign the petition by clicking on the link below:
I will also be speaking at a public meeting about the proposals next Thursday (8 November 2012). The meeting will be from 6pm to 8pm and will take place at the Lessoff Auditorium, Lewisham Hospital . It would be great to see you there.
It would also be useful if you could encourage everyone you know to sign the petition, so feel free to forward this email to your contacts. We have a huge fight on our hands and the community needs to be clear in its opposition to these proposals.
Nice local news article about Blackheath Hospital (or “Hogwarts” as it has been referred to in the past) being used to CAT scan Ancient Egyptian Mummies here. There are some more detailed images of tiny mummified remains being scanned here. What a bizarre job that lady has!
I overheard someone at the station a while back pointing up at the spooky Blackheath Hospital building and referring to it as “Hogwarts”…
It certainly does have a touch of the gothic about it… According to the guru (amazon or abebooks), it was originally built as a boarding school, though not for trainee wizards sadly. Instead it was a boys school for sons of missionaries. And now it mends broken hearts, sort of…