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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt under fire over Lewisham Hospital 'humiliation'
HEALTH Secretary Jeremy Hunt faced criticism in the Commons yesterday following his court defeat over Lewisham Hospital.
Mr Hunt, who is now seeking new powers to close hospitals neighbouring those in administration, had his appeal over Lewisham's proposed A&E downgrade rejected on Tuesday.
Lewisham Deptford MP Dame Joan Ruddock told him: "Let me remind the Secretary of State that the High Court ruled that his actions in trying to remove services from Lewisham hospital to save a separate failing trust were illegal. He then lost the appeal.
"Will he now stop throwing good public money after bad, leave Lewisham hospital alone, and learn to respect the views of the people who work in our hospital and those who use its services?"
And Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: "The humiliation of the Secretary of State in court again raises major questions about his judgement and his ability to manage such important decisions.
"In the summer, we explicitly warned him to accept the first court ruling. Instead, he ploughed on, throwing around taxpayers’ money in a cavalier fashion, to protect his pride and defend the indefensible. I have a simple question: how much has he spent on appealing that decision?"
Mr Hunt appeared to duck the question, saying: "I judged that the right thing for patients was to sort out a problem that was diverting £1 million every week from the front line. Yes it is difficult, but I would rather lose a battle with the courts trying to do the right thing for patients than not try at all.2
In reply to Dame Ruddock, he said: "I will respect what the court has decided, but it is important that I continue to battle for the right thing for patients."
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