Save Lewisham Hospital, Save the NHS
Lewisham Hospital serves an area of 750,000 residents, who live in the sixteenth poorest borough in the country. It is the only hospital in the borough; the only Accident & Emergency department available to the thousands who rely on it. The two nearest hospitals, to which residents will be shunted if the A&E closes, are Kings College Hospital in Camberwell, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich. Both these hospitals are already stretched to the limit dealing with the people who rely on them. Nothing is planned to help those hospitals cope with the many thousands of extra patients they will be seeing if Lewisham A&E closes.
It is not just the A&E which is threatened. Maternity services, intensive care and some children’s services are also threatened. Again, nothing is planned to help KCH or QEH cope with the extra stress on services that they will inevitably face.
Today, on 26th January 2013, I attended a march to protest the planned closures.
This is not a political with a big ‘P’ movement, there is no partisanship. This is a fight which crosses all normal divisions. Old, young, all races, all cultures, all financial backgrounds, all classes, all genders, all sexualities, all levels of ability – we are all affected and we all came together today to fight the attempt to close vital services. Make no mistake, this is the first step in privatising the NHS, in outsourcing provision of treatment and purchase of healthcare medication and equipment to private companies, and in putting profit before people.
- Lewisham Hospital has ranked in the top 40 hospitals in the country for the last four years.
- Closure will save £19.5million, but cost £195million to implement.
- Lewisham Hospital is running in credit; it is a successful model of an NHS hospital.
- Lewisham Hospital Emergency Department (including A&E) has recently received over £12 million in investment.
- Local population is projected to grow by 18% over the next 20 years, putting even more pressure on services.
The reason for these closures? Other hospitals in surrounding boroughs are failing, and the powers-that-be wish to bolster those hospitals by sending Lewisham borough residents to those hospitals. The Trust to which those hospitals belong is not the Trust of which Lewisham Hospital is a part. Matthew Kershaw, the man who led the review and consultation, has baldly stated that the reason Lewisham is to suffer these cuts is so that they do not compete with failing hospitals, in different Trusts, in surrounding areas.
They are threatening a successful hospital precisely because it is successful, instead of investing in failing hospitals and bringing them up to the standard that investment in Lewisham has brought Lewisham up to. These other hospitals are considered to be failing because they are indebted to Private Funding Initiatives; in other words because they received investment from the private sector and are unable to pay back the money as quickly as desired by the private investors. To close Lewisham Hospital departments because of this failing of other hospitals and Trusts makes no sense, at all.
People will die if these services are cut. The consultation stated that travel times would still be in acceptable timings, but as Private Eye reported, this consultation was flawed because it took no account of traffic. This is London, traffic builds up, there are jams and ambulances get caught in them. The fact is ambulances will be unable to reach people in time and will be unable to transport them to hospital in time.
The hospitals to which Lewisham residents will be shunted are already oversubscribed, and routinely send the patients received in maternity and children’s services to other hospitals. Anecdotal evidence from healthcare professionals tell of children being transferred to hospitals as far away as Margate, of women unable to book maternity services due to over-subscription and of patients bleeding out and appendices rupturing because the A&E was oversubscribed. It is to these departments Lewisham residents will be expected to go.
Profit is being put before people in a decision that will endanger lives. It’s more than the wrong decision, it is disgusting. If the departments are closed, the decision-makers – Matthew Kershaw, Jeremy Hunt et al – will have blood on their hands.
If you want to do something, sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lewisham-hospital/