England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals found capacity at the Woolwich hospital’s A&E was limited and rated it inadequate, while its newly-merged trust with Lewisham “requires improvement”.
Campaigners who won a joint legal battle against plans to downgrade Lewisham’s A&E services say the lack of space at Woolwich was one of the key reasons to save Lewisham’s services.
They say facilities were further stretched after the A&E at nearby Sidcup’s Queen Mary Hospital closed.
Save Lewisham Hospital (SLH) campaigner Jos Bell said: “Overall this is a useful report. We said all along that if the government succeeded in closing Lewisham A&E – which would have already happened – it would have cost people their lives.”
She added: “It’s pleasing to see that the Lewisham managers have been praised for their handling of the merger.”
The findings were on the first report of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust which formed last year after the closure of debt-saddled South London Healthcare Trust.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital was rated as inadequate for its A&E, good for its maternity and family planning services, but requires improvement in its other services.
Meanwhile, Lewisham Hospital was rated as good for its intensive and critical care and children’s care - also threatened with a downgrade by the government's failed plans - but required improvement for all other services inspected.
The campaigners say the report highlights the need to keep Lewisham's intensive care unit and paediatric services which had both been destined for closure.
SLH chairwoman Dr Louise Irvine said: “The pressure is year-round, so for the government to continue to say that it would have been better to have taken out the Lewisham provision rather than this merger, is completely irresponsible.
“These issues could not possibly have been solved within a few weeks of the merger, but without the Lewisham services the situation for south east Londoners would have been desperate.”
Clause 119 to the Care bill was recently passed which now allows the Health Secretary to legally shut down services next to financially-struggling trusts after his failed bid for Lewisham Hospital.
To find out more about Save Lewisham Hospital visit savelewishamhospital.com/