MORE than 25,000 people from across the country took to the streets yesterday (January 26) to protest against the part closure of Lewisham Hospital.
They marched against Government proposals to close emergency and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital – a clinically high performing and financially solvent trust – due to problems at the neighbouring South London Healthcare NHS Trust.
Dr Helen Tattersfield, GP and chairwoman of Lewisham’s Clinical Commissioning Group, says the Save Lewisham Hospital group had been overwhelmed by the support from people around the UK who came to the march.
She said: “It just highlights that this a national issue.
"This is the first time the Government has put in place its ‘failure regime’ for an NHS Trust –South London Healthcare – and the proposed solution is to destroy services at a separate neighbouring Trust which is high performing and financially solvent.
"The ‘failure regime’ is set to be used many more times across the UK, so if the Government can close down Lewisham Hospital then no successful hospital in the country is safe.”
Radio presenter Nick Ferrari has spoken on air about how Lewisham Hospital saved his son’s life, and spoke at the event.
He said: “Lewisham A&E has saved countless lives.
"The maternity unit has brought thousands of lives into this world.
"Any closure would be like an act of criminal vandalism.”
Jeremy Hunt is due to make his decision on the proposals to close Lewisham’s A&E and to close full maternity services by Friday (February 1).
Save Lewisham Hospital campaign chairwoman and GP Dr Louise Irvine added: “There is agreement from GPs across South East London that these plans are not safe.
"Mid Staff shows the dangers of putting finances before patient safety, and this is in danger of happening here.
“Ironically, the plans do not even make sense financially, as noted in the press.
"Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust is a successful organisation and wants to work with GPs, local people and patients to make the savings needed without destroying vital services, but the Government 'special administrator’ has refused to listen.”