2:47pm Thursday 14th February 2013
A BUGGY army brandishing heart-shaped balloons protested to save their beloved Lewisham Hospital for Valentine’s Day.
Chanting and shaking maracas, around 150 mums and babies were outside the Department of Health today to deliver the Valentine-themed message: “Have a heart Hunt”.
It comes after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt approved plans to downgrade the hospital’s A&E and maternity services in spite of overwhelming opposition with a 25,000-strong march last month.
Lewisham mums also gave heartfelt gifts including a bouquet of roses made from babies’ socks – each wrapped with the individual stories of infants saved at Lewisham Hospital.
Protest coordinator Vicky Penner, from Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, whose three-year-old son Sam was saved by hospital staff, said: “The mums are keen to persuade Hunt to re-think his attempt to vandalise the excellent, financially successful and much-needed Lewisham hospital."
The 41-year-old, who lives off Shooters Hill Road said: “The mums are angry and are going to be more forceful.
“These are some of the kids who would already have died if they had to have been ferried off by an ambulance somewhere.”
The placard-waving group met at Embankment Gardens and marched their buggies up to the Department of Health for 11.30 this morning.
There was no show from the Health Secretary at the lively protest where chants such as “Jeremy Hunt hang your head in shame, if babies die you will be the one to blame” rang in the chilly air.
Mother-of-two Catherine Paton had a ruptured appendix while she was eight months pregnant and says she would not have survived the extra miles travelling to Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, Woolwich, if Lewisham’s services were reduced.
The 42-year-old, who lives off Lee High Road, said: “There is no way I would have made the trip to Woolwich.
“I think I would have died – my daughter found me on the bathroom floor. I was rushed into hospital and had surgery straight away.”
Jessica Ormerod, 34, who praised staff for delivering her three children, said: “I think every single mum in Lewisham will be affected.
“ Everyone will have to travel out of their borough and an emergency situation will be very very frightening. “It is scary enough moving from one side to another in a hospital - I think it is incredibly dangerous to put women’s lives at risk.”
The protesters also announced a second judicial review to be launched against the plans which follows Lewisham Council’s legal challenge.
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