LEWISHAM Hospital will still lose its A&E under final health proposals revealed today.

Despite thousands of people protesting and wide opposition from health professionals and politicians, trust administrator Matthew Kershaw has announced there were no "viable alternative solutions" to his initial recommendations.

Under the plans:

  • Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup will become a "hub" for health and social care.
  • Funds will be provided to cover costs of the PFI contracts at Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRU) in Farnborough.
  • Obstetric maternity care will be based at King's, the PRU, Queen Elizabeth and St Thomas's. Lewisham will have a midwifery-led unit.
  • Lewisham will become an urgent care centre.
  • The PRU will be acquired by King's College Hospital NHS Trust.
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital will come together with Lewisham to create a new health trust.
  • £74.9m in efficiency savings, including staff cuts and operational savings.
  • Dissolution of the trust on June 1. A three year transformation programme would be funded by £55.3m in Government money.

South London Healthcare NHS Trust was the first ever to be placed in administration after it started losing around £1.3 million a week.

Draft proposals to downgrade Lewisham's A&E and close its maternity services, along with making Sidcup's Queen Mary's Hospital a health campus, were revealed last year.

Trust special administrator Matthew Kershaw submitted his final report to health secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday.

He is due to make a decision by February 1.

Mr Kershaw denied today that the people of Lewisham - whose opposition had been overwhelming - had been ignored.

He said: "We make absolutely clear reference [in the report] to the strength of feeling from the people of Lewisham.

"We've been absolutely true to what people have said."

The adminstrator added: "There isn't a viable alternative solution made through that process."

He also admitted that the hospital system was currently under pressure, and said that changes would have to occur in the other sites, including an expansion of capacity at Queen Elizabeth and the Princess Royal, before action at Lewisham.

Mr Kershaw said: "I have said consistently that the status quo is not an option, and I believe these final, refined recommendations are the right ones, although I appreciate that some people will find them difficult to accept.

"I do believe that if implemented fully they will help deliver safe, high quality, affordable and sustainable services for the people of south east London into the future."

To see the full report go to www.tsa.nhs.uk


Tony O'Sullivan, consultant paediatrician at the hospital, said the move would have a "devastating" effect on the trust.

"They are talking about shutting down all the emergency services - which really does rip out the heart of the hospital - and people will look elsewhere for their medical care," he said.

John O'Donohue, consultant physician at Lewisham, branded the proposals a "travesty" and said the special administrator had "ignored the views of experts and the public".

He warned: "If services at a successful and well-run hospital like Lewisham are closed due to problems at a neighbouring trust, then no hospital in London, or the country, is safe."

'Seriously flawed'

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: "I feared all along that this process was set up to rush through ill-conceived proposals with no intention of listening to the views of local people, the people who use local health services and the people who work in our local health services. Today we have the confirmation.

"Mr Kershaw’s ears were closed. These were seriously flawed proposals in draft and they remain seriously flawed and dangerous proposals. The Secretary of State should reject them.

“I urge everyone who can to join the march on January 26 to show Jeremy Hunt how strongly we feel as a community about these proposals.”

A spokesman for Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust said: "Clearly, we cannot comment in detail on the report as we have not received a copy in advance, and need time to analyse it fully.

"We do support merging with Queen Elizabeth, which is one of the recommendations.  However, we do not agree with the TSA’s prescriptive approach to service change, which would result in local emergency services being closed and maternity services being downgraded.

"As a successful organisation, we have said we would like to determine the future of services ourselves, and we would include proper engagement with stakeholders and the public.

"We are grateful for the support we have received from patients, the public, GPs, healthcare professionals, MPs and partners."

Unsion branch secretary at Lewisham Hospital Conroy Lawrence said: "Staff are shocked but not surprised by the report.

"We know the overwhelming majority of clinical and public responses opposed closure of Lewisham Hospital A&E and it is therefore fundamentally undemocratic to simply ignore that mandate as this report effectively does"

"We have every reason to believe the people of Lewisham will now redouble their efforts to defend what is a popular and well respected hospital, against what is nothing less than a political attack upon an inner city community."