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Health cuts blast for council chiefs

PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 25 August 2010

COUNCILS that refused to respond to a consultation about the downgrading of hospitals have been blasted as incompetent .

COUNCILS that refused to respond to a consultation about the downgrading of hospitals have been blasted as 'incompetent'.

Bromley and Greenwich council, unlike Bexley and Lewisham council, did not respond to three-month consultation by A Picture of Health which ended last week.

The consultation looked at the proposals to axe Accident and Emergency departments at University Hospital, Lewisham and Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup as well as the maternity unit in Sidcup.

Only one per cent of residents who were sent a 'confusing' consultation document have responded, the results of which, are expected to be published in early June.

Greenwich council's leader of the opposition Spencer Drury said: "I am shocked that Greenwich council haven't formulated a response. It is vital that the council responds to the consultation from the residents' point of view.

"The proposals are going to have a huge impact on the people in Greenwich.

"It is a dereliction of duty to fail to do that. It is what the consultation is there for - for interested parties to respond on behalf of its residents.

"The cabinet member David Grant said at a meeting at the end of March, that he thought there would be special cabinet committee to agree a formal response.

"That means this wasn't a long-term plan not to respond which I think is worse. It is not some big policy. It is a policy of confusion. They don't know what they are doing. I think it is incompetence."

A spokesperson for Greenwich council said: "The council is part of a Joint Scrutiny Committee with its neighbouring boroughs.

Greenwich's response will be provided through that process, as originally agreed by all boroughs. This has been agreed with our health service partners.

"We note that the Joint Scrutiny Committee is still in the process of taking testimony from Imperial College. To pre-empt our response ahead of this evidence undermines the Joint Scrutiny Committee and the commitment given by all four boroughs in undertaking this responsibility."

A Bromley council spokesperson said: "The council is part of the joint 'A Picture of Health' committee which is currently scrutinising the options with a view to formulating a response to the consultation. It intends to finalise the response on May 20."

A PETITION demanding that babies' lives are not put at risk by NHS cut backs has been fast gaining signatures.

Yvonne Dyer, Royal College of Nursing representative at Queen Mary's Hospital Sidcup (QMHS), started the petition in March and it has since gained over 300 signatures.

The petition states: "The neonatal unit in QMHS should remain open because if it was closed there would be a knock on effect to all the maternity services in the Borough of Bexley and beyond.

"The neonatal staff working in this unit feel that closure would be unwise as there is a national shortage of neonatal cots and specially trained nurses."

The petition has been signed by public figures including Bexley health councillor Sharon Massey, Derek Conway MP, Bromley and Bexley London Assembly candidate James Cleverly, and Ian Clement, leader of Bexley council.

To sign the petition visit http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/BABYSLIVESATRISK

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