I have had to use Lewisham A&E a number of times with my children, and have been enormously grateful that it's there. The thought that people in Lewisham needing urgent help for injuries would have to travel to often overstretched casualty departments at Woolwich or Camberwell (Kings) is horrific.
A Save Lewisham A&E campaign is already taking shape. They say:
'In July, Tory Health Minister Andrew Lansley MP hand-picked a ‘special administrator’ to take over South London Healthcare Trust. They had immense debts caused by political mismangement- unaffordable bank loans were taken out at the same time rules were introduced to ban the NHS distributing money from profitable areas to those that were in need. So, despite excellent rates of infection and low mortality, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Queen Mary’s, Sidcup, Princess Royal, Farnborough and Orpington Hospital were deemed failures.
However, although the NHS is now structured so that individual trusts cannot receive surplus money from other areas, when it comes to savage cuts, the opposite applies. The Administrator will swing his axe throughout south London’s success stories to fund a trust’s losses- starting with Lewisham Hospital’s newly refurbished A&E.
Closing our A&E will mean only one Emergency Department in the boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley, which have a combined population in excess of 750,000 people. Queen Mary’s in Bexley was recently closed to increase the numbers using Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The trick cannot be repeated ad infinitum, because there is a law of diminishing returns which will be expressed in mortality rates. But the Special Administrator wants to massively increase the number of people attending Queen Elizabeth Hospital, so that the services which he will recommend be auctioned off to private companies and neighbouring Foundation Trusts have a massive footfall.
And this is at the same time he is recommending £100 MILLION of cuts in 5 years to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. South-east London needs more than one A&E, no matter how good the ones we currently have are. Do not be fooled into thinking any of our A&Es have to close for the sake of patients, it is being done to cover up for past political failures'.
It might be a bit too early to take to the barricades, but if this proposal is seriously put forward a line will have been drawn in the sand and it will be up to people in SE London to show en masse that we will not accept such attacks on vital health services.
|Campaigners against an earlier threat to reduce hours at Lewisham A&E in 2009|