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MPs warn 'dangerous' Lewisham Hospital A&E closure would cost £195.2m
MPs warned the Health Secretary last night that the proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital A&E and maternity services was "dangerous", "ill-conceived" and would cost £195.2m to implement.
Heidi Alexander, Joan Ruddock and Jim Dowd, along with other south London MPS, met with Jeremy Hunt nad trust administrtor for 90 minutes to outline their oppposition to the proposals, over which the Health Secretary has final say.
Ms Alexander said: "I think it's fair to say that there was quite a lot of concensus across the MPs about the way in which these proposals will have a knock on impact on hospitals across south east London.
"With maternity, thousands of mums will be going to other hospitals and there was quite a bit of scepticism over the financial planning for increasing capacity."
She went on: "Mr Hunt has said that he has sought some fresh legal advice about whether he actually has the powers to take this decision and I think that he's nervous about it.
"I think he's aware of the possibility of a judicial review by Lewisham Council."
Ms Alexander said: "I think the three Lewisham MPs have done all they can possibly do to make the case against these proposals and I don't think Jeremy Hunt will be under any illusion about the concern and anger that exists about them."
In a document submitted to him, the MPs warned that the plans failed the government's four tests on hospital reconfiguration - support from commissioners, strengthened public and patient involvement, a clinical evidence base and improving patient choice.
Two thirds of Lewisham GPs have come out in opposition to the plans, while the three MPs argued the consultation was flawed and "woefully inadequate", with no question on the selling off of around half the hospital's land and buildings.
The document said: "The final report of the Trust Special Administrator (TSA) suggests 50 per cent of Lewisham A&E patients would still be treated at the urgent care centre.
"The draft report suggested it would be 77 per cent. Hospital doctors from Lewisham, based on an analysis of their caseload, suggest this figure is closer to 30 per cent.
"This has an obvious impact on the additional capacity required at neighbouring hospitals to cope with displaced work from Lewisham, and means that the consultation proceeded on an incorrect and flawed basis."
They also highlighted worries over having larger maternity units on fewer sites in south east London. Lewisham, which has a rising birth rate, is set to only have a midwifery-led unit if the proposals go through.
The document concludes: "The proposals to close A&E and maternity services are dangerous and ill-conceived. Destroying a successful hospital by closing vital services is not in the best interests of the people of Lewisham, nor is it financially necessary.
"It would only make a saving of £12.2m (the approximate cost of Lewisham’s recently refurbished emergency department)."
And it points out that, if all other recommendations were followed apart from service reconfiguration, the service would be just £1.7m short of breaking even.
It says: "The TSA service reconfiguration proposals deliver only £19.5m of savings at a cost of £195.2m - a ten year pay-back period.
"An alternative to solve this gap has been proposed. We urge the Secretary of State to reject recommendation 5 and to retain a full admitting A&E and full maternity service at Lewisham Hospital."
A protest is being held against the proposals on January 26 from 12pm, meeting at Loampit Vale beside Lewisham train station.