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Lunchtime victory march for Save Lewisham A&E campaigners
CAMPAIGNERS to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E and maternity services celebrated victory in the High Court with a march today.
Protesters and Lewisham Council came out on top against the Department of Health after the decision to downgrade the services was quashed in a comprehensive ruling by Judge Justice Silber in July.
But not all is rosy after health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who backs the downgrades to cut costs at the failed South London Healthcare Trust, appealed the decision on the very last day of the three week period he had to make the move.
Marchers met near the roundabout by Lewisham Station at 12pm and though there were only a fraction of the 25,000 who took to the streets in January, the mood was still buoyant after the legal victory.
Parents Tim Yates and Eleanor Mawrey, both 36, brought along son Sam Mawrey-Yates, 5, and his sister Zoe, 1, both born at Lewisham Hospital.
The family are forever grateful to doctors at Lewisham after they saved Sam’s life when he was struck down with the blood infection septicemia when he was just three months old.
Gracey Redden, left, and family before today's march.
Mr Yates, from Hither Green, said: “It would have been dreadful not being able to go to Lewisham as it’s such a long way to any of the other places.
“It would have been so much more difficult to cope with the situation and it was already traumatic enough.
“The thing is there are so many new flats and new people in the area to start taking away and making massive changes to services seems idiotic beyond imagination.”
Mrs Mawrey added: “The money being wasted on the appeal would be better spent on services.
“The maternity ward at Lewisham has to send people away because they haven’t got enough beds as it is.”
Gracey Redden, 46, of Farnfield Road, Downham, was just as cutting about the department of health’s decision to appeal the High Court ruling.
This appropriately decorated dustbin van led marchers along their route.
She told News Shopper: “Jeremy Hunt is just trying to drag it out isn’t he? He’s using our money to pay for his appeal.
“I love Lewisham and I think it’s fine. It is so easy to get to.
“I had to use the emergency services at Lewisham not long ago as I had a really bad toothache and I don’t think I would have made it to Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich.”
George Hallam from People Before Profit slammed the decision to appeal and also called for the merger of Lewisham NHS Trust and Queen Elizabeth Hospital - still on track for October 1 - to be abandoned and PFI charges annulled.
He and other campaigners headed towards Ladywell Fields this afternoon for live bands, children’s entertainment and food stalls at the end of the victory march.
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