Lewisham council have issued an application for a judicial review of the decisions of the Secretary of State for Health and the Trust Special Administrator in the High Court over Lewisham hospital – and say they have already succeeded in delaying implementation of any changes.
They are asking for the court to review the recommendations of the Trust Special Administrator (TSA) affecting Lewisham hospital and the subsequent decision to accept those recommendations by the Secretary of State for Health.
“The council has also secured an undertaking that no service changes affecting Lewisham hospital as a result of the Secretary of State’s decision will be implemented before the matter has been dealt with by the court” said Lewisham council in a statement..
In setting out its grounds for review the council statement adds: “Both decisions are ultra vires. “The TSA (trust special administrator) was appointed to South London Healthcare Trust only.
“He was not appointed to Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust. “The Unsustainable Provider Regime (UPR) confers powers on a TSA and on the Secretary of State respectively to make recommendations, and to take action, about the NHS Trust to which the TSA has been appointed. “But they are limited to that NHS Trust.
“The UPR confers no powers either on the TSA to make recommendations or on the Secretary of State to take action, about an NHS Trust, such as Lewisham Healthcare, to which a TSA has not been appointed.”
Additionally the council has asked the court to expedite the matter so that it is heard as soon as possible, the statement added.
“AVERAGE TWO MORE MINUTES IN AN AMBULANCE” – CLAIM
A Department of Health press statement issued on January 31st said: “It was on the advice of NHS medical director Professor Bruce Keogh that Mr Hunt also announced that he has decided that it is in the best interests of patients that Lewisham hospital should retain its A&E
“The Secretary of State understood the financial rationale for downgrading Lewisham A&E, but in the interests of local patients has imposed some additional clinical safeguards proposed by Sir Bruce.
“Lewisham hospital will retain its ability to admit patients with less serious conditions, and will continue to have 24/7 senior medical emergency cover, allowing it to remain open as a working A&E department treating up to 75% of the patients who currently use it.
“Patients with much more serious conditions or higher risk pregnancies will be taken to Kings College hospital (Dulwich), Queen Elizabeth (Woolwich), St Thomas’ (Waterloo) or Bromley (NFCP note: This appears to be the Princess Royal University hospital, Farnborough Common, Kent in the London borough of Bromley) or because they are more likely to have a better result.
“To get to this higher standard of care, patients across south east London will only spend on average two more minutes in an ambulance to access specialist emergency services and on average 2-3 minutes in a private car or public transport to access consultant led maternity services” it adds.
For the full press release go to Department of Health press releases: ‘South London Healthcare NHS Trust to be dissolved by 1 October 2013’ issued January 31, 2013
“COUNCILLORS FROM ALL PARTIES UNITED IN THEIR OPPOSITION”
In an article in the latest Sydenham Society News (Spring issue) a Sydenham ward councillor has written a hard-hitting piece on the issue.
Cllr Liam Curran (Lab) says that, appalled by the proposals, people from all walks of life and all backgrounds have joined together to declare their utter
“Lewisham’s MPs, Mayor and councillors from all parties are united in their opposition with over 50,000 signatures from residents on a petition in support.
“They have good reason: around 120,000 people use Lewisham accident and emergency unit each year and over 30,000 children are taken to the children’s A&E while over 4,000 babies are born in the hospital.
“Yet the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has given the go-ahead to close Lewisham A&E, the children’s A&E and maternity and paediatric services even though there is insufficient capacity at the other hospitals in south London to provide for these patients.
“According to consultants, GPs, doctors and nurses, clinical staff and hospital workers in Lewisham, lives will be lost and their counterparts from the other hospitals like St Thomas’s have said that they are already ‘bursting at the seams’ and could not cope with the extra patients diverted from Lewisham hospital.
“The statement by Jeremy Hunt that Lewisham would retain a partial 24/7 A&E quickly looked like a cynical swerve to win the headlines as very little has changed from the original recommendations by Matthew Kershaw, the trust special administrator who spent over £5 million compiling his report – which was supposed to be about the problems faced by the neighbouring hospitals in the South London Healthcare NHS Trust.
“Many Sydenham residents will also remember that the opposition to the closure of Sydenham children’s hospital in the early 1990s was only assuaged by its proposed replacement with the children’s A&E at Lewisham which is now to be closed.
“But such a break of trust and the minister’s announcement to downgrade Lewisham hospital has simply prompted all of those involved to respond with our plans to upgrade the campaign to save it.
“The work of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign so far has been an exemplary demonstration of how people from all parties and none can bury their differences to work together in a common cause and I now expect, given the overwhelming case, that Lewisham council should be able to take legal action against the Secretary of State’s decision.
“As part of the group that organized the “Mums and Buggies” guerrilla protest outside the Department of Health, I was heartened by the commitment and the strength of feeling by the participants and the people that count most – all our families, friends and neighbours who rely on the hospital.
“The cumulative effect of the withdrawal of state services displayed by the planned closure in Lewisham of police stations, fire-stations, and now our hospital, is very worrying but the resultant coming together of an entire community in this campaign does renew one’s hope and faith in human nature” he adds.
Sydenham Society News also highlights comments made by the Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock who said he had
“made clear to the trust special administrator and to the Secretary of State” he did not believe that they had the statutory power to make major changes to Lewisham Hospital,
“People in the community asked me how they could contribute to this legal action. “That is why we have set up a Legal Challenge Fund to enable people to make their own financial contribution to the legal action.
“In the event that the court awards costs in the council’s favour or if for any other reason your donation is not needed for the legal action then the council will donate your money to local charity Children First Lewisham.
www.savelewishamhospital.or on Twitter @SaveLewishamAE.
MAYOR PLEDGES TO MEET CAMPAIGNERS
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has pledged to meet with Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners at their request after being booed and heckled throughout a ‘People’s Question Time’ in Lewisham, say London Labour Assembly.
The audience, made up of local residents, questioned the Mayor on the proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital A&E as well as the planned river crossing, extending the Bakerloo line and the intended closure of fire and police stations.
London Assembly Member Len Duvall (Lab.Greenwich and Lewisham) who chaired the meeting said: “It was fantastic to see such a strong turnout from residents last night, who got their point across to the Mayor that they will not be ignored and they fight to keep their local A&E open.
“After hearing from the audience that the ‘100-lives saved’ assertion has been discredited, Boris agreed to meet with campaigners and make further representations to health secretary, Jeremy Hunt” he added.