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Lewisham Hospital - warning over Woolwich and Farnborough capacity
HOSPITALS in Woolwich and Farnborough had to turn away ambulances on six occasions in January, raising further questions over how hospitals will cope if Lewisham's services are slashed.
A Freedom of Information request to the London Ambulance Service from Councillor Chris Maines shows the Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough diverted ambulances on four occasions in January for up to 90 minutes at a time.
At Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, ambulances were put on divert twice in the same month, while maternity services at King's College Hospital also reached capacity on one occasion.
Cllr Maines said: “It’s astounding when hospitals are clearly over capacity at present to be reducing facilities in the area.”
Another FOI showed there had been a 15 per cent increase in the number of callouts for life-threatening incidents within Lewisham in the past year – from 12,410 to 14,253.
Cllr Maines said: "This is further evidence that the demand for A&E services in Lewisham are growing. Category A calls out are those life threatening call outs the ambulance service deals with.
“With ambulances having to travel further distances to an A&E, and having to then return to Lewisham to deal with other emergencies, lives will be lost."
At last week's full council meeting, councillors from all parties unanimously backed pursuing a legal challenge, which is expected to cost around £200,000.
It means the head of law is now authorised to pursue judicial review proceedings.
Lewisham Council has also set up a public fund to help its challenge. Visit lewisham.gov.uk to contribute.
Lewisham Hospital is still open for business and admitting patients as normal.