WORLD-famous social activist Desmond Tutu has slammed plans to axe Lewisham Hospital’s full A&E and maternity services as “scandalous”.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner – who lived in the borough in the 1970s and opened the Riverside building at the hospital in 2007 – is the latest high-profile supporter of the campaign against the proposed closures.

The former Archbishop of Cape Town took time out from an educational global trip to pledge his name to a petition against the plans – ahead of the Health Secretary’s decision early next month.

Chaplain of Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust Malcolm Hancock said: “Given his links to the hospital, I contacted him to let him know about the proposals to close the full A&E and maternity services at Lewisham, which is a high performing and financially solvent NHS Trust."

"Although Desmond Tutu is currently on an educational world voyage, he responded straight away and asked for his name to be added to the petition against the proposals.

“He said that he stands foursquare behind the petitioners, and described the plans to close down vital services as scandalous.

"He said that he hoped that good sense will prevail.”

Malcolm Hancock went on to say faith leaders across Lewisham were backing the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign.

He added: “Everyone I have spoken to opposes these plans. There simply is no reason to close vital services for a population where the local population has high health needs.”